CARNOUSTIE, Scotland (AP) The head greenskeeper at Carnoustie, criticized by some golfers at the 1999 British Open for the difficult course, has been suspended after arguing with an apprentice about the teenager's cigarette breaks.
John Philp was sent home last week after officials launched an investigation into a confrontation involving the 16-year-old apprentice.
The 59-year-old greenskeeper says he plans to be back when the British Open returns to Carnoustie on July 19-22.
"I would certainly hope to be back at work before the Open starts," Philp said from his home in Carnoustie. "I cannot talk about the facts surrounding my suspension in detail, but hopefully this will be resolved soon. We have a month to sort this out and I am hopeful of that."
David Duval, who won the 2001 British at Royal Lytham, called Philp an "out-of-control groundskeeper" in 1999 as some of the greatest players in the game struggled against the ultra-tough course with its thick, thigh-high rough and narrow fairways.
Graeme Duncan, general manager of Carnoustie Golf Links, said he would not go into details of the incident involving Philp.
"There is a staffing matter that is currently under investigation," he said. "We have no concerns for being ready for the Open, we have a really experienced team here, most of whom were here in 1999. The course is in excellent condition ahead of the tournament."
The Royal and Ancient Golf Club's Championship Committee is responsible for staging the 136th Open. Peter Dawson, the R&A chief executive, said the tournament would go ahead as normal.
"It is a matter for Carnoustie and I'm sure it will be resolved soon," he said.
Philp joined Carnoustie in 1985 and is credited with transforming the links course in northeastern Scotland, bringing it back up to championship standard and attracting the Open in 1999 after a gap of 24 years.