The old Scotland saying is “nay wind, nay rain, nay golf.” According to that credo, there was definitely real golf at St. Andrews last week.
The wind has wreaked havoc on scheduling for The Open Championship with delays dragging out the second round an extra day and forcing the inevitable cut of Tiger Woods to feel like it would never mercifully arrive.
But through those difficulties, many of the top golfers in the world have found a way to play through the conditions and remain at or near the top of the leaderboard. After two complete rounds, Dustin Johnson held sole possession of first place with a 10-under 134. Johnson has had a great year, but it is currently best known for not being able to finish off the Masters in stronger fashion. He three-putted the final hole when a birdie would have won it and a two-putt par would have gotten him to a playoff.
But Johnson and Jordan Spieth, who is hoping to win his third major of the year, were reportedly arguing with PGA officials when they were sent out to play as winds blew 45 miles per hour. Spieth remains in contention but when the two best players in the world, which Johnson and Spieth should be considered at the moment, feel so strongly about the weather being too unreasonable to compete, those in charge should be listening.
It’s been a similar situation in South Africa, where the J-Bay Open has had far below ideal conditions for essentially the entire waiting period. Kelly Slater voiced some surprise and displeasure on more than one occasion so far, but there haven’t been many waves to work with.
Jeffreys Bay is known for having some of the best waves on the planet. That hasn’t been the case this time around. It has looked like a choppy right that could be found at many places around the globe. That’s been unfortunate luck for the tour, which is always at the mercy of Mother Nature.
Every sport has to deal with inclement weather or delays, but surfing has to deal with not only hoping for good weather, but for getting the right ocean conditions. In baseball, you can wait out a weather delay, see clear skies and tell the players “OK, go compete.” Sometimes surfers have to compete in waves they may not even think are good enough for a decent free surf.
There’s a sentiment that champions will rise to the occasion, no matter what adversity is thrown in their direction. There is some truth to that. But there are also times when a sport becomes something completely different than what’s intended. It could become trying to be more of a meteorologist than a golfer. Or more of a wave poacher than a surfer. We didn’t get to see the athletes at their best in two iconic locations last week, but that only makes it even more special when we do.
GOODALE TAKES FIFTH AT SHONAN: Kauai’s Dylan Goodale made a deep run at the Murasaki Shonan Open in Japan, reaching the quarterfinals for an equal fifth-place finish. He was finally eliminated by Oahu’s Kaito Kino, but Goodale navigated through a field of more than 130 hopefuls to come away with the strong result. It gives him 630 Qualifying Series points and should propel him up the Hawaii regional rankings for the back end of the year.
Brazil’s Luel Felipe took home the Shonan title and California’s Kanoa Igarashi reached the semifinals for an equal third.
David Simon can be reached at email@example.com.