ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – So, guys, how do you prefer your miserable weather: Driving rain or flag-bending wind?
Seems those are the only two scenarios players will encounter Friday at the Open as we learn which side of the draw got the easier conditions.
“I remember when I got my tee times, I’m like, 'Sweet, that’s the good side,'” said Zach Johnson, who is in the late-early wave. “Well, it may not be. Who knows? You just never know. I’d love to be a meteorologist over here.”
The forecast for the second round calls for torrential rain with 15-mph winds in the morning, followed by heavy winds in the afternoon with gusts that will occasionally top 40 mph.
“It could be Armageddon from the looks of the weather forecast,” said Danny Willett (66), “so we’ll just have to wait and see.”
The clear winner on Day 1 was the early starters, a group that included leader Dustin Johnson and two-time major winner Jordan Spieth.
David Lingmerth was one of the first players off, and he began his Open with a 7-under 29. Yes, he was playing the more gettable side, but players watching the coverage from their hotel room saw that the course was there for the taking – at least early.
Of the top 12 on the leaderboard, 10 teed off in the morning.
“Clearly the morning got the better break today,” said Padraig Harrington, who shot 72 in the afternoon, “but after 36 holes we don’t know what the story is going to be. The best thing was not to get frustrated and wait to see if it might turn around (Friday).”
In the afternoon Thursday, the temperature plunged at least 10 degrees (into the low-50s) while the wind freshened to a steady 20 mph. Soon, players began digging into their golf bags for another sweater, a knit cap or mittens.
“It reminded me of when I was a kid and I couldn’t reach some of the par 4s,” Phil Mickelson said, before later adding: "We were at a significant advantage today, and hopefully if we’re able to play the entire day tomorrow, if will even itself out."
And so the players’ attention has turned to the second-round forecast, which they have been dreading since they arrived at St. Andrews. Their Open chances likely depend on how well they can limit the damage.
“If it’s forecast 25, 30 (mph), it doesn’t matter what you do,” Stephen Gallacher said. “It’s just a battle of survival.”