The steady and cold rain today on the eve of the Open Championship continued into the evening but didn't dampen the festive mood in town. Unfortunately, the course was already not that fiery because the irrigation system had been employed recently, so look for the Old Course to be vulnerable if the wind is down. But based on the weather forecast, the chances of benign conditions seem remote.
I've gotten a few emails about making predictions, and I'm actually much worse than normal when I'm at a tournament because I'm not out on the range or course hearing who is playing well. For some reasonable analysis I'd study the bookmakers' odds and also pick up a few ideas from Helen Ross, who runs through the entire field, Kevin Mitchell says Justin Rose is the pick, while Jason Sobel who ranks the top 50 and picks Ernie Els, and finally, the SI Confidential group makes their picks.
There's a lot of talk about Phil Mickelson and his struggles in the Open. Bob Harig explores the mystery of why Phil hasn't done well in the Open. It is a bit of a mystery with his short game and imagination, but you also have to embrace the wind (as Harig explains), something Phil is finally doing. Steve Elling also explores the topic and Phil's love of the options here and in particular, the chance to hit driver compared to other major setups.
As for the town life, I enjoyed an evening with several writers milling about and soaking up the good vibes. A typical moment came as Elling and I were waiting on Harig and DiMeglio. Tom Weiskopf and wife Laurie came walking down the sidewalk. I smiled and nodded and the 73 champ stopped, said hello and we started up a chat even though he had no idea we were golf writers.
After we introduced ourselves as golf writers (and I reminded Tom of the story I wrote on his work at TPC Scottsdale earlier this year), he spent a solid ten minutes with us talking about his thoughts on the golf course, the USGA vs. the R&A and even told us about the Champions dinner. Though I'm pretty sure he would have done a stop and chat with us even if we weren't writers, it's just the nature of St. Andrews and Open week.
Naturally, he was pleased to report that the champions were quizzed by Peter Dawson about the distance issue and he said "the ball" was mentioned by nearly every player as needing to be restricted in some way. No wonder Dawson was a bit touchy today!
On my way back to the dorms after taking in a pub where several noted caddies were hanging out, I passed Dunvegan's where the scene was more subdued outside than previous nights due to the weather. But it still looked quite festive. And finally, there was the clubhouse on the eve of the Open Championship.