There is a delicious irony, as some have relished pointing out, in what has happened to this wind-chapped British Open Championship at the Old Course.
“Nae wind, nae golf” the saying goes over here.
Assuming this Open Championship eventually concludes –and there’s still the hope that someone will be declared champion golfer of the year sometime before the 2016 event begins at Royal Troon – it will be remembered for many things, some of which might involve the golf.
Part of the charm of the Open Championship is the way the weather plays into the storyline. It’s links golf after all, a game born in the breezes that perpetually blow off the various firths and seas around Scotland and England.
A breeze is one thing, like a dash of spice to enhance a recipe. But someone dumped a gallon of hot sauce into the porridge over here.
First of all, it rained so much Friday morning that the first and 18th fairways were largely under water. The famous Swilcan Burn, the most famous 3-foot wide creek in golf, could have hosted a kayaking competition it had so much water rushing through it, especially when an army of squeegee-wielding course workers were sluicing the standing water away.
When you play golf in Scotland, you expect a little rain. What you don’t expect is enough water to turn California green again.
Then the hammering wind came. Then it picked up. And kept blowing.
It’s possible to play golf in strong winds, but not when golf balls can’t sit still on greens. Just marking a ball became a challenge Saturday morning because they wouldn’t quit moving. If you haven’t seen Louis Oosthuizen’s issue on the 13th green, hunt it down.
He had a 2-foot putt but waited to hit it because his ball was oscillating. When he prepared to mark it, the wind blew the ball about 2 feet. Oosthuizen waited again and when he again tried to mark his ball, the wind blew it another 3 feet away.
That’s when it was time to call timeout in this Open.
There’s a good argument to be made that green speeds are too quick these days to combat the advances of technology, but let’s leave that for a grill room someplace.
Saturday was spent awaiting updates on when play might resume. It became comical as the 10 a.m. update became an 11 a.m. update, then 2 p.m, then 4 p.m. and so on, the message being the same – it’s too windy to play.
Around the Old Course, some spectators sat in the massive grandstands around the 17th and 18th holes watching the wind blow. Some stretched out on the oversized beanbag chairs in the middle of the spectator village, watching replays of past Opens on the big screen since nothing was happening in this championship.
You could have fish and chips or something from the carvery. Ice cream stands did a steady business and there’s always shopping even if the tournament logo this year seems too modern, too big and too garish for such a storied old place. It didn’t seem to bother sales of official merchandise, however.
In the village, pubs were overflowing. It was relatively warm outside despite the gusty wind, and if you went looking for a place to enjoy a pint in the sunshine, finding a seat was the challenge. There was a cheery vibe to the place unless you were a golfer waiting to finish your second round which, given the conditions, had to feel like waiting on a root canal.
Despite all the problems, this Open still has potential. In theory anyway, we’re just getting to the good stuff.
This still feels like Dustin Johnson’s championship to win, but we know his history. Jordan Spieth is still close enough that he could keep the Grand Slam dream alive. Jason Day is there. Danny Willett, son of a vicar, is the stealth threat to win.
Eventually, someone will win. Meantime, there’s a 90 percent chance of rain Sunday.