Wicked Weather Greets Royal Birkdale
SOUTHPORT, England -- No doubt a few players woke up today and thought that Kenny Perry had the right idea all along. Perry is skipping the British Open, of course, and those who made the trip were greeted with miserable weather as the 137th Open began with rain and whipping winds.
Dan Jenkins first came to the Open in 1962 and last missed one in 1969. We asked him to recall the worst weather he'd ever experienced over here, and only half-kidding, he responded, "Today."
Craig Parry was the first player out and shot a 77 in conditions he called "bloody miserable." Parry, an Australian from Sunshine, Victoria--insert your own joke there--said 16 holes played into the wind. "My 3-wood was going about 180 yards," he said. "You could probably putt it farther than that."
Sandy Lyle, the 1985 Open champion, withdrew after 10 holes at 11 over par, including a double bogey at the par-3 seventh. "It plays at 167, and I took a 3-iron and still came up short," Lyle said. "It's normally good for about a 7- or 8-iron."
Two hours into the Open, the top-20 players on the leader board had made a total of four birdies. The forecast called for temperatures of 53 to 59 degrees, but with rain clearing later in the day. If you have a player you're pulling for and are wondering whether he got the bad end of the draw, here's the forecast (all times local):
5-9 a.m.: Showery rain, persistent and heavy at times. Feeling cold in the wind and rain. (We can verify they got this part of the forecast correct; garbage bins all over the course are filled with broken umbrellas.) Wind SW 15-20 miles per hour but gusts of 30 mph in heavy rain.
9 a.m. to noon: Further spells of showery rain, still the odd heavier burst at first. Wind SW 15-20 mph, gusts to 25 mph.
Noon to 4 p.m.: Cloudy with rain at times. Wind SW 15-20 mph.
4-8 p.m.: Cloudy with some dry and bright spells. Wind SW 15 mph.
Here's the outlook for the rest of the week (no sunscreen needed until Sunday):
Thursday night: Cloudy with outbreaks of mainly light rain or drizzle. Wind SW 20 mph.
Friday: Cloudy with outbreaks of rain, perhaps heavy through the morning. Brighter for a time in the afternoon, but heavier showers in the evening and overnight. Wind SW 25, gusting to 30 mph turning West in the afternoon.
Saturday: Showers, perhaps heavy at times. Wind SW 25 mph, gusts of 30-35 mph becoming NW in the afternoon.
Sunday: Dry with bright or sunny spells. Wind NW 25 mph, decreasing to 10 mph.
If, that is, they survive and get to Sunday.
--Mike O'Malley and Ryan Herrington