Golfers at the British Open in Royal St. George’s may be suffering from the foul weather out there with wind gusts estimated at 30 mph but it seems there is a contrasting overall sentiment among players at the other side of the fence at Prince’s Golf Club.
This was the bemused observation made by Gary Woodland while he was at the 13th hole, trying hard to figure out his next shot.
“I was shocked,” he said. “There’s no way back home people would be playing today. And it was packed over there.”
He was also impressed with the number of fans who went out to watch the games on such a miserable day.
It was the worst weather with Matt Millar the first to play as he was followed by fans who held to their umbrellas, but took their hands off and braved the rain long enough to applaud when they saw good shots.
“I just can’t believe how many volunteers, spectators, people who were just so encouraging. Would you spend your free weekend out there on this weather? There’s nowhere like it in the world, that I’ve seen,” Millar said. “That made it a lot easier to keep your head up and keep battling on.”
Woodland 14th hole adventure was most unforgettable. His first tee shot went out-of-bounds but his next one went 50 yards to the left and got lost amid the tall grasses that nearly 40 people were sent to look for the ball.
So why were there so many people following an American who has barely made the cut, was not so well known in these parts and belonged to the fourth group who were at the Royal St. George’s farthest end?
“These fans are unbelievable,” Woodland said. “For them to be out there watching, it was good to see.”
There were other wet experiences at the Royal St. George’s including that of Ryan Moore who got all his six small towels and one big towel wet after 18 holes. On the other hand, there were no layers for defending champion Louis Oosthizen except for his rain suit but he still got four towels wet for the round.
The challenge for the players were not actually their shots but how to stay warm and keep dry long enough to get their shots.
“That’s why I just laughed, because I’ve never played in it like this,” Oosthuizen said. “Whenever you have social rounds and it just starts raining a little bit, you say, ‘I’m out of here, boys.’ But I couldn’t do that today.”
Woodland however said it was the best golf he played all year.
“The tee shot on 14 was the toughest shot out there for me today,” he said.
“Some of the best golf I’ve ever seen,” said Ryan Moore, his playing partner.
Bo Van Pelt said last Saturday’s game was the second-worst condition he ever faced next to Kansas when he had to play at Prairie Dune during his senior in college.
“I was having a flashback to that,” Van Pelt said. “This is the second-worst day. But at least you’re playing in a major. This is what it’s all about. You come here and know this is part of the deal, and if you’re not going to embrace it, you might as well go home.”