ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — After a long, grueling workday on the Old Course, Old Man Wind rolled into the Dunvegan Hotel and pulled up a stool at the bar. “Glenlivet. Rocks,” he growled to the clearly star-struck barkeep as he stroked his gray, tangled beard. “Make it a double.” After the performance O.M.W. staged on the Old Course during the second round of the 139th Open Championship, he deserved it. A couple of whiskeys and a heaping serving of fish and chips later, O.M.W. was ready to talk, and he didn’t hold back. The 4-billion-year-old spoke candidly with Golf.com about his job, his love life, and why sometimes it blows to be the wind.
Golf.com: Old Man, thanks for giving us some time. I know you’ve had a busy day.
Old Man Wind: Any time, and please, call me Gus.
Golf.com: Very well, Gus. You didn’t make many friends today on the Old Course. At times you wailed up to 40 mph and made three-foot putts feel like 30-footers. When Mark Calcavecchia and his wife Brenda woke up at 4:30 this morning, they rushed to their bedroom window and excitedly drew back the curtains to see what the day had in store. “I didn’t like what I saw,” Calc said. “It was blowing.” Does it bother you that golfers don’t like you?
O.M.W.: Jeez, who are you, Mike Wallace? My agent said I could expect softballs! Listen, since the days when shepherds trotted around this joint whacking rocks with crooked sticks, I’ve been an integral part of this game, just like every other element — the sun, the rain, the sod. If you don’t like playing in the wind, go bowling.
Golf.com: Yeah, but 40 mph? That exceeds the speed limit in most small towns. I mean they suspended play for 65 minutes this afternoon. How’d that make you feel?
O.M.W.: Great. It means I’m doing my job.
Golf.com: Are you surprised the R&A halted play? It didn’t seem like you let up much when they sent the guys back out there. In fact, you may have been howling even harder at times. The media center creaked and moaned like a bed in a cheap motel. Ernie Els played some holes without his hat. Do you know how much that must have burned SAP, his sponsor? Tim Clark, hitting into a 25-mph wind on one tee, stepped into and out of his address three different times, drawing chuckles from his playing partner, Rory McIlroy. And speaking of Ror, all he did is follow his first-round 63 (when you didn’t bother to show up) with an 80.
O.M.W.: I get it — conditions were tough. What can I say, guys need to hit it under me. It’s no secret that if you don’t have that shot, you won’t fare well in links golf. Take a recent study that analyzed the effects of wind on a tee shot that carries 255 yards and has an apex, or high point, of 40 yards in wind-free conditions. Into a 20-mph wind, that same tee shot will balloon to nearly 60 yards at its apex and fly only 200 yards. While that same drive hit with a 20-mph helping wind will fly roughly 275 yards, which means my effect is much more significant when golfers are hitting into me rather than with me.
Golf.com: Boooooooring. Here’s the thing, though — for players at this level, isn’t hitting accurate shots into crosswinds in some ways a tougher task than controlling trajectory?
O.M.W.: Absolutely. Did you hear what Mickelson said about me after his round today — and keep in mind, Lefty finished before the suspension, so he didn’t even face me at my fiercest. “It’s very difficult,” Phil said. “The balls are blowing a little bit and you can’t play the ball in the air. It’s got to be along the ground because once it gets in the air, it just keeps going off line.” Added Lee Westwood: “It’s tricky on that crosswind to get it close to the hole.” But, hey, I’m not all bad. Paul Lawrie used the stoppage in play to grab a jumbo sausage and chips from a van near the 10th green. He called it the “highlight of my day!”
Golf.com: No surprise there — the dude shot 82. So tell us, where were you yesterday morning? It was like a vacuum around here.
O.M.W.: Slept in. My alarm’s on the fritz. Plus, with this whole green revolution, I’m beat. Did you know that in 2009, 10 gigawatts of me was harnessed in your country alone. That’s enough to power 2.4 million homes — or three of John Daly’s RVs. I’ve never been more popular!
Golf.com: Easy there — are you wind or hot air? Tell us something about some of your likes and dislikes. Who’s your favorite golfer?
O.M.W.: Charles Howell III.
Golf.com: Right, should have guessed. Are you married? Dating?
OMW: Yeah, just met a beautiful lassie. Her name’s Gail.
Golf.com: [Sigh.] This is getting old. Leave us with your favorite movie. And don’t say Gone With the Wind.