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British Open 2010: St. Andrews--Golf's Green Monster

ST ANDREWS, SCOTLAND - JULY 15:  Lee Westwood of England walks off the 16th tee during the first round of the 139th Open Championship on the Old Course, St Andrews on July 15, 2010 in St Andrews, Scotland.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
Will LeivenbergFeatured ColumnistJuly 15, 2010

The greens look like mountain ranges.

The fairways have as many mounds as they do craters.

The weather is as predictable as John Daly's golf attire.

Both delightful and debilitating, the Old Course at St. Andrews never ceases to deliver as many sighs of disbelief as it does sighs of relief.

Without a breath of wind, an ominous fog rolled through the Scottish track as the morning's competitors began their opening round of the British Open.

That first batch of early-morning players, including Rory McIlroy (63) and Tiger Woods (67), received a monumental advantage from the golf gods. Their rounds were not plagued by roaring rains or howling winds, but instead the weather was something foreign to St. Andrews, total stability.

However, players like Phil Mickelson (73) and Jim Furyk (77) teed off in the afternoon and were forced to deal with the brunt of the brutal and grueling Scottish elements.

Whereas Woods and McIlroy breezed through the nearly perfect morning conditions, Mickelson and Furyk tackled 25mph winds and multiple eruptions of severe rain.

Mickelson would mention after his round that as he strode up to the first tee, the wind kicked up, mist started to blow, and he could feel his demeanor change within seconds.

The morning golfers literally played a different course than the afternoon players, and the array of scores are a testament to that. 

Here's a typical hole for the afternoon player, who has the public's deepest sympathies.

Players in the afternoon approached multiple tee box's to find the wind blazing from their left, but by the time they were ready to hit, the wind had changed it's course and was blowing from their right.

As they approach their shot in the fairway, they find their ball resting on a mound, essentially two feet above their feet. Just as they are about to swing, they can barely grip their club because when the wind changed direction it made the rain move at a horizontal angle.

Once they reach the green, between the hole and the players' ball is often 30-feet of mayhem, comparable to putting through a labyrinth.

Imagine having to putt up a four-foot hill, but with the exact speed necessary to avoid the undulation of the green, which causes the ball to harshly break immediately down-hill.

If, and when players putt the ball in the wrong direction or with too little speed, their ball will filter down the hill into the 'pit of despair,' also known as a road bunker, which has the capacity to devour rounds.

Faltering at St. Andrews is common, while thriving is a rarity.

Round 1 of the Open Championship played true to the Old Course's form, displaying scores and emotions across the spectrum.

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