Who Will Provide the Drama at the Open
Mother Nature Might Cause Trouble
It may all look like an orderly Women’s British Open this year, especially compared to the chaos that befell the men earlier in the month, but watch out. There’s something afoot, Mother Nature to start with, and some scary good golfers that could take it from the front or back, depending on who gets hot at the right time.
However hot the golf might get, it certainly won’t apply to the weather. As one leafs through the photographs for the first three days, the players obviously know that. It’s the most interesting array of jackets, knit-covered hats and ear muffs any fashion line could possibly produce. The few exceptions include New Zealand’s Lydia Ko, who has dared to go out with uncovered ears and a light jacket into the teeth of Scottish coast weather. In most other places where golf is played on a regular basis, it is summer, but that doesn’t mean the same thing at the Open. It may be that a lesson in Celsius versus Fahrenheit is needed.
For those of us in the West who still use the Fahrenheit scale, here’s the basic equation. For the math challenged, of which I am one, try to stay with it. In order to convert Celsius into Fahrenheit, one must multiply the degrees of Celsius by 9, divide that number by 5 and add 32. That indicates to me that either Celsius is a goofy system, or our love of Fahrenheit is, so awkward is it to convert. At any rate, the weather forecast for Turnberry this Sunday calls for some bright spots early on, turning to a cloudy overcast before the day proceeds very far. Rain is expected to spread across many areas, and the wind is strong in places. If they are strong at Turnberry, we might want to add one or strokes to the difficulty of protecting a lead.
But back to our equation. The finale of the Open will reach somewhere around 17.9 Celsius. Multiply by 9, and you’ll get 153 – 30.6 when you have divided by 5. Adding 32 will help a little, but only enough to move you out of an Eskimo parka, and back into what we’ve been seeing for three days, in a whopping 62.6 Fahrenheit. Now, I’ve played golf at 62, and most who are devoted to the game have as well. However, add a cold rain, and things change. The bulk of weekenders start to turn back and stay home. Only the crazies stay. On top of that, add the possibility of wind, perhaps high, perhaps low, and perhaps unpredictable. It’s a hazard of the profession on coastal courses, and Scotland is particularly good at it.
At present, our Open this year sports an international cast of “anyone could win this thing.” Sharing the lead at minus 8 is the South Korean, Jim Young Ko. No, Lydia didn’t change her name. This is a different Ko. Sharing in that lead is Teresa Lu of Taiwan. No, not Yani Tseng – it’s another golfer from Taiwan. One of the leading ambassadors of women’s golf from Norway, Suzann Pettersen, trails at minus 7, and Japan’s Mika Mayazato trails her at minus 6. One stroke back of that are a couple of the aforementioned “scary goods,” Lydia Ko, the one we’re the most familiar with, and Inbee Park (Oh no, her again, I can hear the players think).
Given the Celsius or Fahrenheit readings for Sunday, and considering the possibility of what might pour from the skies or charge in from the sea to the west, I’m going to go with a hunch that a three stroke lead doesn’t mean much. Eagle to double-bogey swings could be abrupt and frustrating. There could be a lot of lead changes, and whoever keeps it in play and putts well could hoist the trophy. One thing I feel confident about. Whoever wins the Open this year will have to beat the field – and Scotland.