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"It almost felt like we were playing a major today." Players react to a tough day at Doral

By Dave Shedloski

MIAMI -- Bubba Watson laid up on a par 3. Brandt Snedeker laid up on a par 4 from just 175 yards. Zach Johnson hit a 5-wood 190 yards and hit the same club 295 yards on the very next hole.

The second round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship went according to plan Friday afternoon at Trump National Doral -- if the plan was total chaos. The ineffably difficult combination of high winds and a new, firm, exacting layout designed by Gil Hanse wreaked havoc on a field that included 49 of the top 50 players in the world rankings.
"Almost felt like we were playing a major today," said Patrick Reed, who shot a three-over 75 on the renovated Blue Course but stood at one-under 143 overall, just one of two players who completed 36 holes under par.

"I don't think I've played in conditions this difficult in the U.S," Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell said following a one-under 71, one of just three players to break par in the second round. "It's an Open Championship day. It's a real Friday afternoon at St. Andrews in 2010, you know, before they called it."
More than 100 balls found the water on the course dubbed the Blue Monster, and it earned that name long before the dragon's breath of 30-mile-per-hour winds that strafed it all day Friday. The second-round scoring average was 75.9.
Julien Trudeau, a former tour player who caddies for Graham DeLaet, said he'd have struggled to break 100. "I'd have lost a dozen balls easy," he joked.

Defending champion Tiger Woods, who carded a 73 to finish at five-over 149 (18 shots higher than where he stood after 36 holes a year ago) was asked which hole was the most difficult. The No. 1 player in the world cracked, "One through 18 right now. For me, yes, I don't know about the other players, but I found all of them pretty hard out there today."
The wind, gusting out of the west, caused the young, already firm greens to dry out. Hitting them was one kind of challenge; keeping the ball on them another entirely. That led to some interesting shot selections.
Faced with a shot of 201 yards on the par-3 ninth, Watson chose to layup short and left of the putting surface with a pitching wedge. He executed the up-and-down perfectly for a par and a handsome 72.
At the par-4 seventh, Brandt Snedeker struck a 6-iron 130 yards into the green. But the carry was 175; he purposely played short of the green because he felt there was nowhere to land the ball.

While a few players thought the setup was too penal for a golf course that Donald Trump purposely wanted made more difficult, the gusting winds were the real issue.
"Hey, look, with no wind any golf course and any setup are fine," Webb Simpson said. "When you have conditions like this, there's so much luck that comes into play."
"It stinks that the first year they're getting extreme conditions," Bill Haas added. "A new course, it's playing as firm as it can be. And with this wind, it just exposes every little area and every bad swing."
Jim Furyk, who stood 11 over par after two rounds, summed up his predicament best. "As bad as I'm playing, the good news is they'll let me keep playing this weekend, and then they'll pay me."