SOUTHPORT, England — Crazy British weather can lead to even crazier British Open scores.
And at Royal Birkdale, and all Opens for that matter, fortunes can change in a hurry.
Jordan Spieth is well aware of the threat.
“At this tournament [the weather] tends to fall on half the field,” Spieth said. “You kind of cut half the field, depending on the draw. Sometimes it’s more or less 75 percent. But most of the time there’s at least a group that gets the worst weather. And it’s almost impossible to win in that circumstance at an Open Championship. So nothing you can do about that other than keep your head down and play as well as you can.”
The early week weather at Birkdale has been pristine, but it will get rougher in the coming days. There’s an increased chance of rain Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with winds just under 30 mph.
“If it’s an afternoon round and the other side has already played the morning, that’s when it’s tough,” Spieth said. “Because you’re like, ‘I can’t shoot those scores. It’s not possible.’ And that’s frustrating when you think you can play your best and it doesn’t happen.”
Spieth, however, is not only a favorite this week but among the most rested. After playing six of seven weeks, capped by his Travelers Championship victory, he took the next three off. One of those was spent with friends on a beach. On Tuesday during his press conference, Spieth sounded relaxed and focused. He also said he’s no longer using his two-major 2015 season as a benchmark. He admits he did that too much last season.
He’s already won twice this year. Before the Travelers he triumphed at Pebble Beach. He also ranks first on Tour in Strokes Gained: Approach and is sixth in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-green. Ball-striking, as many have come to note, will be paramount at Birkdale. Spieth, who turns 24 next week, hasn’t finished in the top 10 in his last five majors, although he contended at Augusta in April. He’s also conceded that whatever happens the rest of the way he’s already considering this year “a good season.”
Earlier in the day, Spieth played in the well-known Tuesday game with Phil Mickelson, Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm. Mickelson, of course, holed a chip, and Thomas holed a bunker shot. It was business as usual.
“It felt like a normal week. Not much different, honestly,” Spieth said. “I think we know it’s a major but you go out with the same preparation. You try and knock off the same boxes, check the same boxes before we get out there and also save your legs and try and find that right balance to where you’re ready and rested.”