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Jerry Kelly said he was surprised at the difficulty of the course set-up considering the conditions on Thursday. (Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Kelly and R&A's Dawson spar over course set-up

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Jerry Kelly had some choice words for the R&A Thursday regarding the first-round tee positions, but R&A chief Peter Dawson said he didn’t think the complaints were valid.

SOUTHPORT, England (AP) - Jerry Kelly put the Royal & Ancient in the same league as the U.S. Golf Association on Thursday, and considering he shot 83 in the first round of the Open Championship, that wasn't a compliment.

Kelly, who criticized the USGA over the set-up at Shinnecock Hills for the final round of the '04 U.S. Open, blamed the R&A for not moving up a few tees in 30 mph wind, which he said made it impossible for him to reach four of the par 4s.

"I was really surprised because the R&A usually uses common sense," Kelly said. "The weather was playable, but not with that set-up. Do you want to take half the field out of the championship just because you can't hit it far enough? Basically, if you're not a long hitter out there today, then there are seven or eight par 5s."

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R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson didn't understand the fuss.

Three of the holes in question were the 499-yard sixth, the 11th and the 16th hole, which are moderate in length (just under 440 yards) but required a carry of some 210 yards to reach the fairway.

Vijay Singh couldn't reach the sixth hole in two by using driver twice, both solidly struck.

Dawson said with such a strong wind, the sixth hole played more like a par 5. He also noted that the Claret Jug is awarded to the lowest score, not the score under par.

"It was a par 5 today, even though it was a par 4 on the card," Dawson said. "I just don't see an issue with (No.) 6 at all. There was no issue about whether you could reach the fairway or not. End of story, as far as I?m concerned."

He said the 11th hole required a 230-yard carry, but officials mowed the rough in front of the fairway earlier in the week and set the markers to the front of the tee box.

"I do believe it's reachable by most of the field if the ball was well-struck," Dawson said.

He didn't hear any complaints about the 16th, where the next forward tee is some 50 yards closer. He hadn't heard from Kelly, though, who had said he would talk to Dawson about the way the course was set up.

"They've put themselves right in the same league with the USGA at Shinnecock," Kelly said. "They knew what was coming. We knew what was coming yesterday. Four greens I couldn't reach. Three fairways I couldn't reach. I can't hit it far enough. This is a great golf course. You can't mess it up, except for the tees."

Dawson said he considered Kelly a good friend and a great supporter of the Open Championship who "had a bad day at the office."

"Links golf -
tough day by the seaside," Dawson said.

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