U.S. Open

Pinehurst Resort & Country Club (Course No. 2)

The Loop

What a Difference the Afternoon Makes

SOUTHPORT, England -- They call it the luck of the draw, but if you were among the players to have an afternoon tee time during the first round of the British Open on Thursday, you were particularly fortunate--not to mention in much better position to play Royal Birkdale on the weekend.

Gusts of 25 mph bustled throughout the day, but those teeing off after 11:41 a.m. (the "afternoon" wave) avoided the heavy rains that greeted the threesomes in the morning.

Just what a difference was there from morning to afternoon? Try almost three full strokes. The scoring average for the 76 morning players who completed their rounds (Sandy Lyle and Rich Beem withdrew) was 77.39.The 78 afternoon players posted an average of 73.40.

An even closer look shows that if you teed it up before 9 a.m. it was even more punishing; the average for the first 40 players Thursday was 77.55 with 11 players shooting 80 or higher.

Another way to look at the difference in difficulty from morning to afternoon is a simple look at the leader board--and when those on top began play. Notice only two of the top 14 started before 12:14 p.m.

69 -- Rocco Mediate, 12:14 p.m.

69 -- Graeme McDowell, 12:36 p.m.

69 -- Robert Allenby, 1:09 p.m.

70 -- Greg Norman, 12:58 p.m.

70 -- Adam Scott, 1:20 p.m.

70 -- Bart Bryant, 2:20 p.m.

__71 -- Retief Goosen, 7:58 a.m.

71 -- Mike Weir, 9:31 a.m.__

71 -- Jim Furyk, 12:47 p.m.

71 -- Gregory Havret, 1:31 p.m.

71 -- Fredrik Jacobson, 1:42 p.m.

71 -- Peter Hanson, 2:20 p.m.

71 -- Simon Wakefield, 3:04 p.m.

71 -- Anthony Wall,  3:37 p.m.

-- Ryan Herrington