Date: November 26, 2015
Author: Mike Clayton

Clayton: Woe those who fear the wind


Whether they admit it or not most professional golfers fear those awful Sydney days when the wind blows hard from either the north or the south. At The Australian it is the southerly which makes the course most problematic but the first round had them contending with the opposite wind coming from the direction of the city.

The twenty-year pro, Richard Green, lamented he was hitting two woods into the long 8th hole (played as a par 5 in the 60s and 70s from a tee further forward than this weeks) but as a measure of how the modern player has adapted to the new power game, the 18 year old Victorian Amateur Champion Zac Murray was on with a five iron second. The leader, the enormous hitting Lincoln Tighe did even better, reaching with an eight iron but his power is almost beyond belief.

Either way the 8th was the hardest hole of the day but relief came on the holes either side of it, the 7th and 9th,both now reduced to pitching clubs with the wind behind.

The original course was more suited to playing golf in high wind as the ball could be run onto the greens from far short but the founders of the club were more familiar with the game as it was played in Britain. By the 1970s the game was far more U.S-centric and perhaps unsurprisingly the course was altered to reflect the way the game was played in the New World.

It surely has made it a demanding test for the national Open and the winner in 2010 Geoff Ogilvy finally made something of his quality ball striking. In the middle of the last decade he was one of the best few players in the game because he was a particularly efficient scorer but for too long he was been very good ‘at turning 68s into 72s’.

There is no surer route to frustration than mastering that art.

His last three weeks in America were utterly unproductive if making the cut is the measure but he continued to insist he was hitting the ball well and the evidence of his practice round on Tuesday reflected it.

It has been some time since he has played his best golf. There have been odd weeks here and there including a win last year in Reno but not enough consistently good play for him to be ranked amongst the best twenty players on the tour.

He is well entitled to fade from the scene and enjoy the fruits of fifteen very productive years but he is still strong, flexible and not so old to give up the ambition to win big events.

Matt Jones finished with a long putt across the final green for 67 and he has the advantage of membership at the club and the attendant local knowledge. He was one of a few who deliberately drove down the 8th fairway off the 9th tee to setup an easier approach played with the wind blowing ideally from the right. Ogilvy in contrast played from the proper fairway but his spinning pitch hit the green and then spun off down into the pond to the left.

By the end of the day neither of the favourites Adam Scott (71) or Jordan Spieth (71) had done themselves much harm and they too will surely be there at the end.

The wind might calm from here until Sunday but already it has done enough to dry the greens and with a little speed added the winners golf will need to be of high quality.