Weather shifts from wicked to wonderful |

Weather shifts from wicked to wonderful

Daily Staff Report

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It was wicked one minute, wonderful the next.The rain and wind were so strong Monday morning at Carnoustie that Tiger Woods and Rod Pampling didn’t even bother with umbrellas, and Woods took off his glove when he lost feeling in his ring finger. By the afternoon, Henrik Stenson sat on the side of the practice range trying to decide which sunglasses to wear.”It can turn in a hurry,” Chad Campbell said. “We saw it today.”Sweaters gave way to short sleeves.Coffee sales slowed as fans queued up at the ice cream stand.The weather is often the best defense in links golf, and it’s what makes the British Open so unique. Along with being brutal, it can change without notice, and sometimes having the good end of the draw can matter as much as raw talent.But it has been on somewhat of a holiday since Woods’ bid for the calendar Grand Slam in 2002 ended in a blast of arctic wind and stinging rain at Muirfield that sent him to an 81, still his highest score as a professional.Sure, there has been the occasional rain and a wee breeze, but nothing nasty.Charles Howell III didn’t play his first British Open until 2003 and has never really experienced a miserable day on the links. Monday was the first full day of practice for many players, and presented with the opportunity, Howell didn’t want to miss it.”I didn’t play that year at Muirfield, and I don’t know how it compared,” Howell said. “I just wanted to play it and see. And it was really rough. It was very rough.”He played Carnoustie on Sunday and hit a 4-iron to the fourth fairway and a 7-iron to the green. One day later, hands stuffed in his pockets as he practiced alone, Howell hit a driver and a 3-iron to reach the green at the 412-yard hole.UnpredictableNo telling how Mother Nature will behave when the British Open begins Thursday, or the rest of the week.Woods, Pampling, Howell, Brett Quigley and Robert Karlsson were among those who left nothing to chance. Woods was on the first tee at 6 a.m., his typical starting time during practice rounds at the British Open.Once he made the turn, he must have wondered why he bothered.”One good thing about today is he’s playing in a rain jacket,” swing coach Hank Haney said. “He hasn’t done that all year.The round was quiet and quick. The harder the wind blew, the more the rain blew sideways, the more fun they seemed to have.”Good thing we’re playing today,” caddie Steve Williams said. “It could be worse tomorrow.”

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