The Open 2015: ‘The wind doth blow’ on a surreal SaturdayJuly, 2015
Five times strong winds have changed the course of Open history at St Andrews
The strong Scottish wind has put a dampener on the fun at the Open, with play being suspended at 7.32am, after just half an hour of golf in which both Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson criticised the R&A for sending them out at all.
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Dustin Johnson dropped a shot before play was suspended, and only time will tell whether he comes to regret it.
“We should never even have started,” Spieth was picked up by TV cameras as saying, berating R&A officials who will have had impatient tour professionals chewing their ears off all day.
But at St Andrews, the wind is a feature of play, and here are five times when it’s only added to the drama.
High winds caused a suspension in play on Friday afternoon, leading Rory McIlroy to follow up his first-round 63 with an abysmal 80.
“It was hard to get anywhere near the pins,” said McIlroy. “Even when you did the ball was going all over the place. I just didn’t handle it very well.”
Louis Oosthuizen got lucky and, playing in the day’s second group, he enjoyed light breeze and rain, rather than the gales which so affected those playing in the afternoon. This allowed him to shoot the day’s joint-best score of the day and lead to a seven-stroke victory for the South African.
John Daly had finished dead last in his first two attempts at the Open, but the Kid from the Wrong Side of the Country Club made a mockery of the windy conditions, taking the unusual approach of driving six of the par 4’s.
This was an Open where Jack Nicklaus made a 10 after landing in Hell Bunker, but Daly only hit two errant tee shots all week and on four occasions on Friday managed to two-putt from over 100 feet.
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A four-hole playoff victory over Constantino Rocco gave Daly one of the most unlikeliest of St Andrews victories.
‘Experience counts at St Andrews’ 3. 1978
Jack Nicklaus became the first player in the modern era to win two Opens at St Andrews, and he did so with a little help from the St Andrews breeze.
Defending champion Tom Watson had been leading the Open after three rounds, but a switch in the wind, so that it was against going out and behind coming home, caused Watson to fall out of contention with a 76.
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This allowed Nicklaus to slip into the lead and his closing 69, without dropping any strokes, gave him the victory.
“Experience counts at St Andrews,” said the 38-year-old Golden Bear.
Sam Snead wasn’t exactly enamoured with the Old Course when he first saw it, and strong winds on the final day undid some fantastic work by Bobby Locke, Henry Cotton and Dai Rees, who shot a record 67 in the second round.
The ‘Welsh Wizard’ succumbed to the weather and closed with an 80, but it was Snead who remained unflustered, shooting a closing 75, the highest final round of any champion since.
JH Taylor learnt his golf on the Royal North Devon Links at Westward Ho! and had devised a method of playing so as to avoid the swirling winds. He planted his feet solidly to the ground and punched the ball with a flat, low swing.
Taylor scored 78, four shots better than his nearest rival, and in doing so became the first Englishman to win the Open at St Andrews.