Every day this week, writers and editors from Sports Illustrated and Golf Magazine will address one pressing question about the British Open in a daily version of PGA Tour Confidential, our weekly roundtable discussion.
Jim Gorant, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: Looks like we’re in for some rough weather this week. Who does that help and why?
Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: This is a generalization, but bad weather helps the guys who play the Euro tour — they see more of the wet and cold than Americans, Aussies or South Africans. But of the Americans, Woods is a good mudder, and Stricker grew up playing in less-than-ideal conditions. Maybe I’m showing a Badger bias here, but even a guy like Jerry Kelly could benefit.
David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com: I don’t know if you can really say that bad weather favors anyone — some players are simply able to cope with it better than others. With that in mind, I think Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, who grew up in Portrush, Northern Ireland, should naturally be able to handle windy, rainy conditions. Each is an excellent ballstriker, can flight the ball down effectively, and has shot plenty of low scores at St. Andrews.
Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: It helps Graeme McDowell and Padraig and Rory and their ilk, but especially McDowell and maybe a guy like Mike Weir. Foul weather has a way of leveling the playing field between the long and ordinary-length hitters. Also, one of the guys I am dining with likes Paul Lawrie. Great mudder. And he’s due.
Mike Walker, senior editor, Golf Magazine: I heard Lawrie’s mudder was a mudder.
Seriously, Padraig Harrington’s won two of the last three of these things, the one in Birkdale with weather so bad Sandy Lyle could barely get through nine holes before walking off. All week, Harrington was psyching guys out by wearing a short-sleeved shirt. He’s got to be loving this.
BTW, probably not good news for Mickelson. I was starting to buy into him at a links course, but excess wind and rain might be too much for the California Kid.
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I disagree with Cam — power is a distinct advantage in bad conditions, as you can bash the ball through the wind and rain and carry it farther over the softened turf. That said, the advantage really swings to mentally tough grinders: Tiger, Paddy, G-Mac, Watson, Poults, guys like that. At least half the field is already too intimidated to win. Throw in nasty weather and maybe only two dozen guys are serious contenders.
Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I’m not so sure the bad weather favors Tiger. His three claret jugs were taken in warm weather and fast conditions. Seems like he’s struggled in the soup (Muirfield and Turnberry come to mind). I’ll put Harrington, Tom Watson, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood on my list of mudders.
Farrell Evans, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: Bad weather brings in the fluke factor. We could see a guy we’ve never heard of win this thing if the wind and rain is bad, making birdies rare. There is always a career-week guy in the majors. The best player could shoot an 80 in the first round and be out of the tournament after Thursday.