HOW BIG A PART WILL THE ELEMENTS PLAY AT ST ANDREWS?
On Thursday, July 14, the first players will tee off in The Open Championship at 6.35am. The last will go out at 4.16pm. What happens in the clouds above them in the hours in between may well decide where the Claret Jug ends up.
“Being on the right side of the draw always plays a part in The Open,” says 2011 winner Darren Clarke, who began his Saturday round dressed head to toe in rain gear and ended it in short sleeves and squinting sunshine. “You get good sides, bad sides and the scoring can differ massively because of the weather. But that’s The Open.”
Indeed it is, and that’s what makes it so joyously unpredictable. In 1973 at Royal Troon, Tom Weiskopf bemoaned a late tee time on the opening afternoon, until a raging storm early on put paid to the hopes of many of his rivals. By the time Weiskopf teed off, the storm had passed. He shot a 66 to lead, went wire-to-wire and never complained again. At Muirfield in 2002, 30mph gusts blew Tiger’s Grand Slam charge off course – his 81 (+10) in horizontal rain was the worst of his professional career at that point. Rory Mcilroy’s first-round 63 on the Old Course in 2010 was followed by an 80 in wind so fierce that play had to be halted. The next year, having been blown around again at Sandwich, he announced: “I’m not a fan of tournaments where the outcome is predicted so much by the weather. I’d rather play when it’s 80 degrees and sunny and there’s not much wind...”
Any local will tell you he’s unlikely to get what he wants at St Andrews, so whoever wins will need to stay on the right side of the draw and of Mother Nature herself.
‘WHEN IT BLOWS HERE, EVEN THE SEAGULLS WALK’ SIR NICK FALDO