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Continued: BRITISH OPEN '13: A surprise storm at Muirfield that stopped Tiger Woods' bid for a slam

  • Article by: DOUG FERGUSON , AP Golf Writer
  • Last update: July 12, 2013 - 11:05 PM

No one has to remind Woods.

"We were just about ready to go out," he recalled. "And it just hit. You could see this wall of rain coming in. The forecast was just for maybe some showers, no big deal. But no one had forecast for the wind chill to be in the 30s. For it to be that cold ... that was thing. No one was prepared for that. No one had enough clothes. It got to the point where the umbrella was useless. It was raining too hard, and it was too windy."

On the 560-yard fifth hole, Woods had hit driver and a 6-iron to the green the day before. In the third round, he hit driver, 2-iron and another 2-iron.

Such tales are not unusual in links golf. What was unique about this day was the combination of wind, rain and cold. The lasting image was Shigeki Maruyama, crouching and shivering behind a wooden billboard that surrounded the tee, the only shelter he could find.

The wind was strong enough to move golf balls on the green, which typically means a stoppage in play. But it was raining so hard that the balls stayed put on the wet greens. It was raining hard enough to form standing water on the greens. But it was blowing so hard that it dispersed the water.

The perfect storm, one might say.

"It's easily the worst weather I've ever played in," said Padraig Harrington of Ireland, who has seen his share of bad weather. "We've been called off the golf course in far nicer weather, but there was no reason for it. There were no balls moving. There was no lightning. So you had to play."

Steve Stricker, born and raised in Wisconsin, called it "the coldest I've ever been on a golf course."

Justin Rose and Justin Leonard made the cut with one shot to spare on Friday. They went off in the second hour of tee times for the third round and played in lovely weather, with only a mild breeze. Each had a 68. They started the day in a tie for 50th. When it was over, they were tied for third.

"I got in with a black cloud chasing me down the 18th fairway," said Davis Love III, who shot 71 playing two groups behind Leonard and Rose. "We literally were running. It looked like we were in Kansas with this big, black cloud coming. And it just turned on us."

Leonard could hear the tents flapping at lunch, and he went out to the range to practice. He hit three balls and stopped. There was no point.

"I was staying there in Greywalls, and Davis was a couple of doors down," Leonard said. "The top of the door was open, and Davis would come down every hour and says, 'Are you watching this? Do you believe this?' At one point he said, 'You're going to be leading this thing.'"

Leonard and Rose wound up three shots out of the lead, but that was as close as they got. Woods followed his 81 with a 65 the next day, not enough to make up much ground with good scoring all around him. Els kept this Open interesting to the very end, losing the lead with a double bogey on the 16th hole, finishing birdie-par to join a record four-man playoff, and winning in one extra hole when he saved par from a bunker on the 18th.

What might have saved him that week was his 72 in the third round. It was the lowest score among the final 11 groups who teed off.

"What he shot on Saturday was phenomenal," said Stuart Appleby, part of the four-man playoff that Els won. "That was probably in the top five of hellish weather days that he and I have ever seen in our British Open history."

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