British blog: Weather, tee times are important

Louis Oosthuizen after winning the 2010 Open Championship at the Old Course at St. Andrews.

9:25 a.m. EDT: "It is what it is"

SANDWICH, England–And now a word about acceptance or, more precise, the phrase that apparently has gone from cool to cliche in little more than a decade.

In a British Open news conference Tuesday morning, Masters champion Charl Schwartzel said at one point, “It is what it is.”

Some four hours later, world No. 2 Lee Westwood was asked if he was concerned about rain delays here. “It is what it is,” Westwood said.

Interestingly, the Englishman caught himself immediately. He clearly did not like the sound of those words hitting his ears.

“I hate using that term,” Westwood said, slapping the side of his head.

The overused phrase has become part of common language, indicating an accepting nature. Based on Westwood’s dislike for the term and my general sense, it seems on the decline.

To that I say, “It is what it is.” Our lives won’t change either way, unless we, say, suffer bodily harm from someone who might object to its usage.

The first time I heard the phrase was in Las Vegas in 1999. Tommy Armour III used it after shooting 60 in the Las Vegas Invitational.

My recollection of that situation is this:

Local reporter: “Tommy, you could have shot 57. You missed three putts inside of 8 feet.”

Armour: “I suppose, but I also holed a 3-iron shot. It is what it is.”

And so it was. Armour was content with shooting 60. And he handled it in a mellow way with a cool phrase.

Cool then, anyway.

– Jeff Rude

•••

6:55 a.m. EDT: Weather and tee time play a big role at the Open

The Open Championship has a bit more luck attached to it then the other three majors. The additional luck comes in when the draw is announced and players see how their draw matches up to the weather forecast that week.

In many cases, the eventual Open winner had a favorable draw to match his stellar play.

Last year at St. Andrews, it looked like the early/late draw got the biggest break after Rory McIlroy went off at 8:20 a.m. in Thursday’s first round and shot a ridiculous 9-under 63. Many looked at the forecast then and believed that the early/late draw was the most favorable.

So after everyone was done anointing McIlroy the winner on Thursday, few gave much notice to the 11:52 a.m. tee time of Louis Oosthuizen. Posting a 65 in more difficult afternoon conditions, the South African would get better conditions on Friday morning at 6:41 a.m. and would post a 67 before McIlroy would tee off. Once the Ulsterman did finally get to the tee at 1:31 p.m., the conditions he experienced on Thursday were a distant memory and an 8-over 80 would derail McIlroy’s chances of a major championship.

So on the eve of the 140th Open Championship, the draw and the weather are again an interesting point of discussion.

According to the weather forecast, Thursday’s first round will see similar conditions all day with winds from the NW at 5 to 10mph with gusts to 15 mph, a relatively typical day at an Open Championship, favoring no particular game or player.

But on Friday, clouds and winds will increase throughout the day from calm conditions to S/SW winds increasing from 15 to 20 mph with gusts to 30 mph that will overtake sunny conditions early.

That sounds like a game changer and those that have the late/early draw have an advantage, which would include the following:

Matt Kuchar and Padraig Harrington at 1:21 p.m. on Thursday and 8:20 a.m. on Friday; Zach Johnson, Justin Rose and Adam Scott (1:32 p.m./8:31 a.m.), Graeme McDowell, Jason Day and Bubba Watson (1:43 p.m./8:42 a.m.), Lee Westwood, Steve Stricker and Charl Schwartzel (2:10 p.m./9:09 a.m.) and Louis Oosthuizen, Martin Kaymer and Phil Mickelson (2:21 p.m./9:20 a.m.).

Even Tom Watson gets a break teeing off at 2:32 p.m. on Thursday and 9:31 a.m. on Friday.

- Alex Miceli

•••

6:55 a.m. EDT: Tiger's fall in the rankings

Was I the only one to miss the fact that Tiger Woods had fallen to No. 19 in the World Golf Rankings on Monday? Guess so.

Sandwiched between Robert Karlsson at No. 18 and Hunter Mahan at No. 20, Woods is destined to fall further since his return to competitive golf is still uncertain.

Woods has been on the top of the rankings for 623 weeks in total since he turned professional in Milwaukee in 1996 and had been in the top 10 of the rankings for 736 weeks. Heady numbers when you consider Greg Norman is second to Woods as World No. 1 at 331 weeks and then Nick Faldo is third at 98 weeks.

Falling out of the top spot last fall after the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic in Malaysia, Woods still stayed in the top 10 until the week of the HP Byron Nelson Championship and since then has fallen to his current spot, his lowest since 1997.

After winning in a playoff at the Las Vegas Invitational in 1996, Woods was ranked for the first time at No. 75 in the world, but with a victory at the Walt Disney World event near the end of the season, Woods moved to No. 37 and eventually No. 33 as the season closed.

After a playoff win at the Mercedes Championship in 1997, Woods moved to No. 23 and eventually No. 22 before a second-place finish at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am moved Woods to No. 14, which is the lowest spot he has occupied before his current position.

- Alex Miceli

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