AFP/Chaska, United States
Olympic champion Justin Rose criticised the setup of Hazeltine for Sunday’s decisive singles matches of the Ryder Cup, saying the layout had a Pro-Am feel about it.
The United States defeated Europe 17-11 to win the trophy for the first time since 2008 on a 7,628-yard layout that hosted the 2002 and 2009 PGA Championships, both of which Rose played.
“Setup-wise, this course can be as tough as you want it to be, there’s no doubt about it,” Rose said. “If we were all to be honest about it, I thought the setup was incredibly weak.
“I thought it was very much a Pro-Am feel in terms of the pin placements. They were all middle of the green.”
Rose lost to American Rickie Fowler 1-up, one of four 1-up triumphs by the US side on a layout US captain Davis Love admitted before the start was set to try and deliver birdie chances and shotmaking excitement for spectators.
“I don’t quite understand that with world-class players here and we want to showcase our skills. We want to be tested,” Rose said. “The water holes out there, all the pins were as far away from the water as possible.”
Rose called the pin placement on the par-3 17th “an absolute joke.”
“It’s a 9-iron into the middle of the green and you stiff it,” he said. “With a match on the line, you kind of feel like you want a player to step up a little bit more than they have to.”
Of 14 players who reached the 17th on Sunday, there were eight pars, four birdies and two bogeys. Rose and Fowler each made pars, Fowler having birdies 16 to go 1-up.
“I just felt coming down the stretch, it was a little soft,” Rose said.
Fowler defended Hazeltine, saying it was more about how they played than the course.
“The setup, I don’t think it was easy by any means,” Fowler said. “Him and I didn’t play as well as we would have liked to. We didn’t make many birdies on both sides. I felt like it was an even match.”
The PGA of America’s Kerry Haigh handled the details of pin placements and course conditions, keeping rough to minimal levels rather than US Open density.
“I thought that the PGA did well all week,” Fowler said. “They did a good job preparing the golf course, getting it in the right condition and where the hole locations were. It was a good setup.
“It worked out just fine for us.”
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