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Blue Monster has golfers seeing red

By Steve Keating

DORAL, Florida (Reuters) - The Blue Monster had some players seeing red after a tough day at the WGC-Cadillac Championship on Friday left only four golfers below par at the midway point of the $9 million event.

Prior to the opening round golfers had sung the praises of the redesigned course but many were singing a different tune after whipping winds allowed the Blue Monster to show its true colors.

Business magnate Donald Trump, who has poured $250 million into renovating the Trump National Doral Resort, hailed architect Gil Hanse's creation as big, bold and fair.

Few have disputed Trump's 'big' and 'bold' assessment of his property but some like Briton Luke Donald were left questioning the fairness of the layout.

"I'm sure Mr. Trump wanted something pretty hard and a test, a World Golf Championships, he wanted something severe but it's bordering on unfair on a few holes," said Donald after slumping to a 10-over 82.

Golfers were left stunned by the extent of the renovations that have taken place since Tiger Woods claimed his seventh WGC-Cadillac championship last year.

The course was stretched 150 yards, more bunkers and trees added while greens were completely reworked with testing undulations.

On the old course water hazards came into play on just six holes but now feature on 14.

That danger became clear during Friday's second round when 113 golf balls found a watery grave.

"That's a lot. There's a lot of water out here," said American Matt Kuchar, who grabbed a share of the second round lead after returning a two-over 74.

"Greens are slick and firm and conditions are really tough.

"I think that you have to kind of embrace the challenge. I think that you have to look forward to seeing what sort of shots you can come up with.

"The Blue Monster certainly showed its teeth today."

Only three players managed to break par during a wild second round that ended with an average score of four-over 76.

It marked the first time since the final round of the 2009 PGA Championship with no scores in the 60s.

The brutal winds combined with shaved banks, severe slopes and lightning quick greens created a nightmare for golfers who described the day as a test of survival.

"I have to say, 75 in these conditions, I'm quite pleased with it," said Italian Francesco Molinari, who will start Saturday one shot behind the leaders.

"It's playing really, really tough, as tough as you can imagine.

"On this golf course as it is at this minute, there's no room for mistakes.

"It's almost become a survival test because no matter if it's downwind or into the wind, it's really hard to judge the shots.

"There's water pretty much on every hole. So I think it's as tough ... as we can get during the season.

"I'm glad it's over for me today and I get a rest before going out tomorrow."

Not everyone was unhappy with the new layout.

Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell, who returned a one-under 71, had no complaints and thought no-one else should either.

"You know, one bogey in those conditions, on this tough a golf course let's be honest, you can't criticize the golf course," said McDowell.

"You play these types of conditions last year on this golf course and it's going to be brutal.

"So you can't stand here and criticize the golf course in any shape or form.

"You can't call it unfair when everyone gets a chance to play it."

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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