Players’ British Open hopes might be blowing in the wind
By Martyn Herman Reuters ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- Strong winds and torrential rain are expected to blow the British Open leaderboard apart on Friday with players gearing up for the worst Scotland's climate can throw at them. Low scoring was possi...
By Martyn Herman
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland - Strong winds and torrential rain are expected to blow the British Open leaderboard apart on Friday with players gearing up for the worst Scotland’s climate can throw at them.
Low scoring was possible around the 7,297-yards links in Thursday’s opening round, especially earlier in the day when leader Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth took advantage of relatively benign conditions to score 65 and 67 respectively.
But according to the Met Office, Friday morning will see heavy downpours and a south-easterly wind gusting to around 40 mph - similar to Friday five years ago when Rory McIlroy followed an Open record 63 with an 80.
“I’ve heard stories of gusts of 40, that’s going to be very, very difficult and a very different golf course,” England’s Luke Donald told reporters after a first-round 68.
Rarely does a British Open pass without some weather interventions, some more spectacular than others, so it’s no surprise players double as weather forecasters, especially when an unlucky tee-off time can wreck their chances.
Saturday’s later starters could get lucky.
“With the draw you can get carved up being on the wrong side of the draw, and you just hope that it’s fair to everybody, but very rarely is it,” Lee Westwood said.
Masters and U.S. Open champion Spieth, who warmed up for St Andrews playing the John Deere event in Illinois, a world away from the wild Fife coast, said Friday could get “brutal”.
“It’ll be a true Scottish day,” the 21-year-old Texan predicted. “But we should all enjoy the challenge ahead.”
Englishman Ross Fisher will not be getting too worked up about it though - saying the forecasts are invariably wrong.
“It almost has it’s own weather forecast for this little area,” he said. “You get what you’re given.”
Former champion Padraig Harrington meanwhile is looking on the bright side.
“I’m hoping for perfect conditions in the morning,” the Irishman said. “I know I’m going to get lucky.”
The last time the Open was held at St Andrews in 2010 high winds forced a stoppage on day two while predicted heavy rains last year forced R&A organizers into two-tee starts for Saturday’s third round.
The worst day in recent memory was on the Saturday at Muirfield in 2002 when a raging storm moved in off the North Sea and caused havoc with players needing three woods at par-threes and umbrellas torn to shreds.
Tiger Woods, who was chasing the third leg of the calendar-year Grand Slam that year, shot 81, while Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie signed for an 84, the day after a 64.