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Greens won't be as fiery, Open organizers say

By Tony Jimenez

GULLANE, Scotland (Reuters) - British Open organizers are not expecting the rock-hard greens at sun-drenched Muirfield to be as fiery in the second round as they were over the opening 18 holes.

Several players complained the putting surfaces were too speedy on Thursday and, coupled with the difficult pin positions set up by the Royal & Ancient (R&A), it made it almost impossible to get the ball close to the hole.

"Last night the greens were hand watered. The sprinkler system was not used," the R&A said in a statement during Friday's second round.

"The greens are expected to pick up pace during the day again but the dramatic increases of yesterday are not anticipated."

U.S. Masters champion Adam Scott, Ian Poulter of Britain and American Bubba Watson were among the players to raise concerns on Thursday.

"It is far from unplayable but we do hear player comment and we're not so insular as to ignore it," R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said.

Poulter was unhappy after his one-over 72, saying it was disappointing when good shots were not being rewarded properly.

"Unfortunately the guys this afternoon will struggle with a few pin positions," he said on his Twitter account. "8th hole is a joke, 18th needs a windmill & clown face."

Watson, who shot a 70, said it was the most difficult start to a British Open he could remember.

"This is the toughest I've ever seen on the first day," he told reporters. "The pin locations, the burned out greens, the firmness of the greens and the firmness of the fairways."

Dawson said the extremely hot weather had made the course more difficult but he was happy with the set-up.

"We've got the conditions here that we really like to have - hard, fast and running," he said. "We set up the course to test the players' course management strategy."

Scott, who carded a 71, described some of the flag positions on Thursday as "really borderline".

"It's so dry and it's pretty spooky out there," said the Australian.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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