Jul
13
2010
Afternoon Tee at the Open Championship: Monday & Tuesday
By Stephanie Wei under British Open

My apologies for the lack of posts (especially the daily updates), but I’ve been running around like crazy gathering material for the next few days. Now that’s out of the way. I’m jetlagged and absurdly sleep-deprived, so I’ll do my best to write coherently.

First of all, St. Andrews — the home of golf — is everything it’s revved up to be, especially during Open week. I’ve been tweeting some pictures and the word that keeps coming to mind is “unreal.” (I know, so expressive.) I love historic towns (hence, I was a History major and focused on the UK), and I immediately remembered exactly why I love the UK so much.

Before my trip, I heard so much about the amazing atmosphere in town, where the pubs are overflowing with fans, media and locals, and even the players mingle. Well, it’s all true. I mean, Pebble Beach was awesome and everything, but it’s no British Open. (Sorry!)

Oh, I’m happy to report that my B&B is just a dogleg par-5 from the media center and the 1st hole/18th green. It’s unbelievably convenient. And more important, the bars and restaurants are just around the corner.

Monday was pretty relaxed. No one was really around — at least the media folks because it seemed like everyone was playing at Carnoustie. Punks! (Kidding.) Like I mentioned, I hung out at 17 for a while. Then I walked up 18 with Ryan Moore. By the way, I might be totally jinxing him, but he’s looking sharp. He loves the course and it fits his eye. More important, I’ve never seen him more positive (I’ll elaborate in the WSJ tomorrow.)

The wind has been down the past two days (unlike the 40-50mph gusts on Sunday). It’s been around 5-10mph and sunny, but apparently that’s supposed to end tomorrow. I was told there would be “torrential” rain on Wednesday. Awesome! Good thing I brought extra rain pants.

You know what I said about the town and tournament intermingling? So, I was on my way home to sleep when I saw a crowd outside Dunevegan Hotel, which is one of the famous hangouts. I decided to take a look and I ran into a bunch of media people and got sucked in. But it was well worth it. Seriously. Those few hours at Dunevegan were very valuable.

Brian Gay stood on the corner and had a few beers with us. He said the wind was so crazy on Sunday that he hit a 5 iron from 100 yards and it didn’t make it across the Burn (the river that runs through the 1st and 18th holes).

Earlier in the evening, I spotted Nick Faldo and his lady friend leave the TaylorMade party and walk hand-in-hand toward the 18th hole. Presumably they’re staying in one of the houses along the fairway.

Oh yeah, the male to female ratio is hilariously disproportionate — like 20:1 at least. Shock! Basically, the sausage fest extends from the media room to everywhere I’ve been. I walked into the TaylorMade party and my friend (a fellow scribe) quipped, “Well, this is where to come if you want to meet dudes.”

Best of all, I met some locals. One of which invited me to play golf on Tuesday morning. I hesitated at first, but the Golfweek dudes said I had to go. My new friend James picked me up at 7:10 to play the Castle Course, the 7th and newest of the courses at St. Andrews. It was my first experience golfing in the UK! (Exciting, I know!) The course reminded me of the moon’s terrain because all the artificial mounds of fescue. Basically, it was like a truer version of fake American links golf if that makes sense. The designer of the Castle also designed Bandon Dunes. I’m told some of the purists aren’t fans and I can understand why, but I thought it was fun.

Perhaps that’s also because I played really well. I shot one-over on the front nine (I couldn’t finish because I wanted to watch Tiger’s presser). James and I played a friendly match against his friends and we hustled them…kinda. Believe it or not — playing was also working because it helped me understand links golf better. The greens are large but very true. I’m an awful putter, but if you lag it to within 10 feet, it’s hard to miss. For some reason, they suited my eye. And the guys said my driver ball flight was good for links golf — a low draw. I should play more of it.

Oh, this was cool — I got to try on the replica Challenge Belt. The real one was awarded to the champion from 1860-1870 until Young Tom Morris won it outright. This year they created a replica to give to the 2010 Open Champion. Pictures to come in the WSJ tomorrow.

I had the rare opportunity of walking with Jason Day (who is awesome — very chatty and friendly), Tim Clark and Michael Sim in their practice round for nine holes. I got to see how they learn the lines off the tee and how they prepare for links golf. It was rather educational. More tomorrow in the WSJ.

Here’s the view from behind the new tee box on the Road Hole. The old tee was where that boulder is on the far side of the cart path — see that gray object?

Sorry! I know, the suspense must be totally killing you. Okay, I’m going to stop rambling because I don’t think I’m making any sense. I’m actually going to get some rest tonight so I’m prepared for the rest of the week and my posts will actually be a little more articulate.

I’ll post more pictures tomorrow — I’ve taken 200-something (yeah, I’m living up to the Asian tourist stereotype). It’s taking forever to upload them here because the WiFi at the B&B is being incredibly slow right now.

‘Til then. Cheers!