By Tom Pilcher
VIRGINIA WATER, England (Reuters) - British trio Ian Poulter, Paul Casey and Luke Donald were critical of the Ernie Els-inspired redesign of the West Course at Wentworth on Friday.
Poulter said "it's not fun" to play the PGA Championship venue, playing partner Casey described it as "a grind" and joint second-round leader Donald explained that "some holes were slightly too severe."
"I've loved this golf course from a kid but I don't seem to get the best out of it," world number 14 Poulter told reporters after carding a three-over 74 to lie six strokes off the pace on level-par 142.
"It's turning into a very difficult golf course and I've got to say it's not fun."
The 35-year-old Englishman said his double-bogey seven at the last left a sour taste in his mouth.
"I hit what I thought was a perfect third shot, it was maybe caught out a tiny bit by the wind, and it pitched by the green and finished in the hazard. Marvellous," Poulter said in a comment laced with irony.
"Some of the fun of the last few holes, I think, has been taken away. That's the redesign, that's what they want and they got what they wanted."
The most eye-catching change this year is at the par-five 18th where the green has been enlarged from 380 square meters to 586 and the putting surface elevated.
Casey, who won the European Tour's flagship event in 2009, echoed the thoughts of countryman Poulter.
"I used to really enjoy playing this golf course and now it's a grind," said the world number nine after returning a 71 for 143.
"I think (owner) Richard Caring, from what I've heard, was perhaps wanting something like level-par to win. Well, he might get that -- but does that make it entertaining?
"This is a golf course you can do not a lot wrong and walk away with double bogeys," said Casey before adding that it was playing "four shots tougher a round" since he won two years ago.
For Poulter, the saddest part is all the great strokes of the past he grew up remembering have been lost.
"(Nick) Faldo's shot out of the trees on 15, a massive cut on to the green. I can go on and on about the old shots ... it's now changed. Those shots you can't remember," he said.
"We are going to have to fill up the archive with a lot of new shots."
World number two Donald, tied for the lead with Spain's Alvaro Quiros and Italian teenager Matteo Manassero, said certain holes could do with "some softening."
"If we had to play this course every week it would grind on you," said Donald.
"You wouldn't want to play it every week. I think there needs to be a mixture."
(Editing by Tony Jimenez)