(AP) Carnoustie was such a brutal test in the 1999 British Open that tabloids referred to it as "Car-Nasty" and there were far more complaints than birdies. Sergio Garcia cried in his mother's arms after an 89 in the first round, while Fred Funk withdrew after an 83 in the first round because he was fed up with narrow fairways and knee-high rough.
Those who return next week might be in for a treat.
Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson said the weather has conspired to give the Scottish links an odd combination of soft conditions and moderate rough.
"This has been the driest April we've had for a long time, followed by the wettest period in late May or June," Dawson said. "Whilst the ground is wetter than we like to see, it hasn't resulted in quite as much grass. Very unusual conditions."
The British Open usually allows weather and wind to dictate how difficult it plays. Dawson said the ideal condition is brown, meaning the fairways are hard and fast and the rough is wispy. If it rains, the soft fairways are neutralized by thick rough.
"We have softer conditions and the rough has not yet sprung up," he said. "It's going to be a fair bit more generous than last time."
The winning score was 290 at Carnoustie eight years ago, the highest winning score at a major since Jack Nicklaus shot 290 at Pebble Beach in the 1972 U.S. Open, and the highest winning score at the British Open since Fred Daly shot 293 in 1947.
The R&A doesn't concern itself with par as much as other golf organizations, and Dawson hardly sounded bothered.
"Carnoustie is in super condition," he said.
It certainly surprised one player. Phil Mickelson played a practice round Monday, and while he declined comment until after his pro-am round Wednesday at the Scottish Open, he told PA Sport, "It's a nice course. I never really knew that."
BACK IN ACTION: The busiest man in golf is about to return to the links.
Nick Faldo, an analyst for CBS Sports and The Golf Channel, returns to competition for the first time in eight months when he plays the British Open at Carnoustie, followed by his Champions Tour debut at the Senior British Open.
Faldo turns 50 on July 18, and his senior debut will take place at Muirfield, where he won the first of his six majors in 1987. Faldo made 18 pars in the final round to hold off Paul Azinger by one shot.
"I'm hoping I can do that again," Faldo said Tuesday.
His last tournament was the Merrill Lynch Shootout last November, where he teamed with tournament host Greg Norman. Faldo said his left shoulder is a little tight, but that he has been doing biomechanic exercises to get in shape.
His son, Matthew, will be his caddie.
"I'm looking forward to getting to Scotland, testing the golfing muscles for a change," he said.
Faldo and Azinger will be back together one last time, both working for ABC Sports during the British Open. They also will be opposing Ryder Cup captains at Valhalla next year.