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Turnberry lighthouse and ball
Steering clear of the rough at Turnberry will be mandatory to success, say several players. (Cannon/Getty Images)

Turnberry is looking like it'll play like a beast, say players

A handful of contestants have checked out the Ailsa Course lately, and their reports are downright scary. From sources like Colin Montgomerie and Graeme McDowell come reports that the rough is the thickest they've ever seen on a links course.

TURNBERRY, Scotland (PA) -- Turnberry is shaping up to be a brute of a test at the forthcoming Open Championship, according to early player reports.

"They had a medal there for the members -- 150 starters -- and they left 480 balls on the course,” said Colin Montgomerie, who has a golf academy at Turnberry. "That's over three a player and it proves that, although the fairways were generous, avoid the rough at all costs.

"It's a shot-maker's golf course, a tremendous course,” he added. “I didn't lose a ball, which was good, but it can only be worse now than when I played 10 days ago."

Ernie Els, the winner at Muirfield in 2002, added: "I was there for two days and that could be quite a beast if the wind comes up. They must have had a lot of rain -- it's very lush, very green and that's why the rough is so high.

"You're probably going to have to have a good game plan, probably play quite safe off the tees to get it in play,” he explained. "The secret to playing good links golf is having a good strategy, sticking with that and having a lot of patience. But, more than anything, really striking the ball solidly.

"If you don't you'll get found out. You won't have much of a chance."

Ulsterman Graeme McDowell, defending champion at the Scottish Open this week and the first-round leader both at Birkdale last year and Hoylake in 2006, came back with a similar view.

"It's got some of the heaviest links rough I've ever seen," he commented. "If you miss it in the wrong place you might want to bring a couple of golf balls with you.

"I certainly lost a couple. Right of the 17th green I've never seen rough as thick in all my life,” he added. "You've got to know which side you can miss it on and which you can't."

On McDowell's first visit he played with Rory McIlroy, who gleefully revealed a few weeks ago that he gave his compatriot a hammering.

"Was he bragging?" said McDowell. "He normally turns me over in practice rounds. He's one of the best Tuesday players I've ever played with -- he's pretty good at weekend as well.

"He put a pretty good display on and took the money. Enough said."

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