I feel like a weather man. Maybe Al Roker or Mr. G. It seems like every time we have a major championship, I'm writing about the weather. But, unlike the U.S Open, today I write about how good weather can affect a golf championship.
What kind of effect can good weather have on a golf championship?, you may ask. The answer lies in the course.
One of the main features of links golf is that it is played in areas that are often rainy and windy. A major staple of the British Open has always been watching players struggle through some of the strangest conditions this side of winter. For goodness sakes, last year's British featured sideways rain!
More than every other type of course, links courses are based on the assumption that the weather will be generally bad and unpredictable. The courses themselves aren't necessarily all that challenging. The game often surrounds itself around navigating the course in sub-par conditions. Because the courses exist is places like Scotland, Ireland, and Britain, it is a safe bet that the weather will generally give way to challenging links golf.
But if you took that bet on day one of the British, you would have lost. The weather at Turnbury was quite calm. Watching the coverage on TNT, I saw little traces of rain or wind that would make any difference. This made a course that would be difficult in bad weather quite "assaultable".
And assaulted it was. Although not leading at the end of the day,Tom Watson stole the show early. Watson used the calm course to his advantage a fired an unreal five-under, 65. The most impressive statistic from Watson's day? No bogeys.
The 59 year old is known for his many triumphs at The British in the past, but was largely thought of as a ceremonial player who would finish light years below the cut line. Watson, himself, was supposed to help out on ABC's weekend coverage. But don't worry, ABC. He'll still be helping you out. He may be your lead story. Yes, the prospect of Watson being in serious contention this weekend is an unlikely one. But stranger things have happened. One has to only look to last year when 53 year old Greg Norman found himself in the top three going into Sunday.
But here's why I don't think Watson is a serious contender come Saturday night- The weather yesterday allowed the course to become manageable. Their was no wind. No rain. No obstacle to overcome, besides the general trials of a professional golfer. I wouldn't bet on the weather staying that way. I question whether Watson can compete in weather that is less than glorious. From what I understand, a glorious day is quite rare. I don't think the equation of late round golf + Scottish weather + a few charging young guns on your tail would be one that Watson could solve successfully. I wouldn't be surprised if we're talking about Watson's prospects differently after today's round. He tees off at 8:06am.
Getting "Watson-blocked" in all of this is the actual leader, Miguel Angel Jimenez. Jimenez, also no spring chicken, shot a 6 under, 64 to grab sole possession of the lead. As was with Watson, Jimenez did not bogey a hole. His round was capped by a fantastic birdy putt at 18 to grab sole possession of the lead. The forty five year old had his most success in the early 2000's. He had his best major finish ever when he tied for second at the 2000 U.S Open. A year later, he had his best ever British finish- tieing for third.
While I think he has a beater chance to stay in the tournament, I still question how much of the leaderboard was aided by the great condition. That being said, while tougher condition don't help the leaders, it doesn't do the chasers any favors either.
Other day one musings....
- Another poor day one showing for Tiger at a Major. He shot a +1, 71. It looked like he struggled off the tee for the majority of his round. One of the more disturbing things I noticed from Woods today was his general demeanor. Tiger is not known as a hot head, but he's never exactly stoic on the course when he's frustrated. If Tiger is not playing well, you will know it from his body language. This is nothing new.
But I thought his body language today was particularly poor. I noticed it more on the back nine. It wasn't just yelling and pouting. It was letting the golf club go in the middle of his back swing in frustration. If seen Tiger mad, but never so much that he'd consistently go short on his mechanics.
I have a theory about why Tiger was so mad at himself, and it goes back to the weather. In his Tuesday press conference, Tiger talked so much about the challenges of a links course and the importance to taking advantage of it when you can...Today was a perfect day to pepper a course like Turnbury and Tiger couldn't do it. Theren lies the frustration.
But this I know- round two is a make or break round for Tiger. He's tied for 68th and cannot afford to wait for the weekend to make his move. By that time, it may be too late...even for Tiger.
The fact of the matter is that Woods may have wasted a huge opportunity on Thursday. If theres no charge, I wonder how this will affect the way his year is viewed. To be fair, its not a bad knock on the guy if you make it.
- Two major disappointments today...
-My pick, Hunter Mahan, is tied for 98th after a +2, 72. He never got comfortable after putting up bogey's on his first two holes. He made only three birds all day (all on the back nine) and double bogeyed 15. He knows how to come from beind, but 8 shots may be a rough climb in a major.
- Anthony Kim was terrible. Part of it could have been the neck injury that he suffered early in his round. I know what those feel like and I can't imagine playing golf with one. Kim dug his grave and buried himself with a gigantic 9 spot on the
2nd hole...9?? I don't even shoot nine's.
- Jordan Lauterbach