SOME humble Aussie black ants earned the ire of visiting American golfing icon Fred Couples at the Australian Open today but local rules officials refused his plea for protection.
Couples asked for relief when his stance inside a bunker on his second last hole was crawling with ants.
An Australian rules official refused his request for a drop from what was a very poor lie on the lip of the bunker.
The US Masters winner said words to the effect of: “You’re kidding me. You expect me to stand in that.”
Couples called over playing partner Stuart Appleby for a second opinion (pictured left), and after whatever conversation ensued there, eventually had to play the ball as it lay.
His other playing partner and opposing Presidents Cup captain, Greg Norman, was on the other side of the fairway having his own problems with one of the courses many waterways.
The problem seems to have been one of an ant misidentification. In the US and elsewhere the presence of fire ants, much nastier creatures than the little Australian black ants, does often warrant relief being given.
A Queensland rules official said her state also had some likely candidates, big bush bull ants, that might also warrant relief, but the little black ants were never going to be a threat.
With practice severely limited by two days of heavy rain, Couples had been struggling somewhat on a totally revamped Lakes course and perhaps was hoping for a bit of a break.
Still, he managed to finish on even par and will start the second round at 12.10 on Friday afternoon at least having a little more familiarity with the course.
Norman started with a bang, playing his front nine in two under but dropped five shots on the last five holes to finish with a two over 74.
The tournament leader is Matthew Griffin, who finished with a 7 under 65.
Queenslander John Senden birdied the final hole to finish outright second on 6 under with Alistair Presnell a stroke away third.
Peter Senior had an inspiring round finishing at 4 under, tied with eight others including Stuart Appleby and Geoff Ogilvy, who stormed home with an eagle-birdie finish.
Defending champion Adam Scott was displaying his usual superb ball striking but frustratingly was again let down by his short putting. If he can just get his putting confidence back there is no doubt he will again be in contention, despite finishing the day with a 3 over 75.
Big John Daly is also in contention after opening with a 69 that included six birdies and three bogeys.