LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England – Catching the wrong side of the draw is a way of life at an Open Championship, where weather changes and leaderboard shifts are not mutually exclusive, and Thursday’s opening round at Royal Lytham & St. Annes was no exception.
Of the top 12 players on the Day 1 leaderboard only four played with an afternoon tee time, the byproduct of increasingly difficult conditions. When front-runner Adam Scott teed off at 8:42 a.m. the seaside links was as benign as it can be. By the time Rory McIlroy completed an eventful round of 67 the winds had freshened, the skies greyed and the average score increased.
“I think we had it slightly tougher than the guys in the morning,” said McIlroy, whose round included a double-bogey 6 at No. 15, a bogey and six birdies.
“The ball didn’t go that far (in the afternoon),” Colsaerts said. “Hopefully the weather is just as good tomorrow morning. Looking at the scores there was definitely an advantage playing in the morning, but you get that in links golf.”
By the time McIlroy & Co. teed off, Scott, who flirted with a major-championship-record 62 before a bogey at the last dropped him to 64; Woods, who was 4 under through his first seven holes; and Zach Johnson, who is tied with Colsaerts in second place at 5 under, had already done their damage in perfect scoring conditions.
Just past lunch, however, a light rain began falling and a slight breeze added to the degree of difficulty for the late starters.
“It’s always the luck of the draw with the Open,” said Ross Fisher, who struggled to a 2-over card in the wind and rain. “The first half dozen holes it was pretty easy, you could score.”
Friday’s forecast calls for an increasing chance of showers and wind in the afternoon. Or, for those used to these type of conditions, an English summer.