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

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

The spiritual side of Stewart Cink keeps him from believing in golf gods. His last trip to Muirfield was enough to at least make him wonder.

Eleven years ago, there appeared to be no stopping Tiger Woods. He won the Masters and the U.S. Open, the first man in 30 years to capture the first two legs of the Grand Slam. And after two rounds at Muirfield, he was only two shots out of the lead going into the third round of the British Open.

"If the wind ever blows," Woods said Friday after his bogey-free 68, "it's going to be interesting."

Saturday appeared to be another bonnie day along the Firth of Forth, with only a mild breeze for most of the morning.

And then it got interesting.

Cink recalls being on the third tee, just as the outer loop of the front nine turns clockwise. On the eastern horizon, he could see a black wall of clouds. He remembered saying to himself, "Oh my gosh, it's coming toward us."

"At it just clobbered us," Cink said. "It was intimidating."

Woods caught the worst of it. He couldn't reach the par-3 fourth hole. He hit only one fairway on the front nine. He made his first double bogey in 14 rounds at a major, and more followed. He went through 12 gloves trying to say dry. And when this remarkable day was over, Woods had an 81, the highest score of his career.

And so ended his bid to become the first player to win all four professional majors in the same year.

"That was unfortunate. We could have maybe been looking at a Grand Slam because Tiger was playing so well," Cink said. "I don't really believe in golfing gods, but if they were to exist, they would be smirking a little bit. We're talking about a Grand Slam and then they threw that at us."

The squall only lasted a few hours, but it did plenty of damage. Ten players failed to break 80, including Colin Montgomerie, who went from a 64 on Friday to an 84 on Saturday. The last 32 players to tee off all shot over par. No one broke par who teed off in the last five hours of play.

Ian Poulter was in the group ahead of Woods and Mark O'Meara. He was two shots out of the lead. He shot 78. When asked what he remembered about that day, Poulter's eyes got as wide as when he makes a big putt in the Ryder Cup.

"What bit of that three hours of torture would you like to know about?" he said. "I don't think I've ever played a round of golf with it dropping that much water and the course was playable. It's the most amount of cubic capacity of water I've ever seen drop and not flood a green. Have I ever played in it? No. Would I ever want to do it again? No. How can you prepare for that? Your caddie needs eight hands."

Mother Nature was only a contributing factor, however, to the end of Woods' bid for the slam. Thomas Levet played in the group behind him and shot 74. Levet wound up losing in a sudden-death playoff. Ernie Els was won the claret jug in 2002. He was in the last group on Saturday and played most of the back nine in calmer conditions when the storm passed. Even so, he weathered the storm and shot 72.

Woods wasn't at his best, and it happened at the worst of times.

"It's just part of the deal when you play over there," Woods said. "I think that's the beauty of the playing The Open Championship. ... I just happened to be at that time when we got the worst of it right when we started."

The British Open is renowned for its wacky weather, and it can show up with little notice.

Even with a forecast for dry conditions when the Open returns to Muirfield, it should serve as a reminder how much golf's oldest championship depends on the weather.

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."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
Detroit 3:30 PM
Cleveland
Houston 6:00 PM
San Antonio
Oklahoma City 6:30 PM
Dallas
New York 8:00 PM
Portland
Toronto 8:00 PM
Denver
Phoenix 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Toronto 4:00 PM
Florida
Vancouver 7:00 PM
Anaheim
Tulane 11:00 AM
St Johns
Central Conn St 12:00 PM
Connecticut
Iona 12:00 PM
Drexel
Concordia (MI) 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Harvard 1:00 PM
Arizona State
Longwood 1:00 PM
Ball State
Sacred Heart 1:00 PM
Brown
Colgate 1:00 PM
Columbia
MD-Eastern Shore 1:00 PM
Duquesne
UNC Greensboro 1:00 PM
East Carolina
Marist 1:00 PM
Elon
NJIT 1:00 PM
Lafayette
Cincinnati Christian 1:00 PM
Liberty
Morgan State 1:00 PM
Marquette
Campbell 1:00 PM
Samford
Bucknell 1:00 PM
Siena
Long Beach State 1:00 PM
Syracuse
Coppin State 1:05 PM
Evansville
UMKC 1:05 PM
Indiana State
Hofstra 1:30 PM
Long Island
Coast Guard 2:00 PM
Army
Thomas (GA) 2:00 PM
High Point
Texas Southern 2:00 PM
Kansas State
Rutgers 2:00 PM
Monmouth
NC Wesleyan 2:00 PM
NC A&T
South Dakota St 2:00 PM
Northern Iowa
Central Penn College 2:00 PM
Radford
Bowling Green 2:00 PM
South Florida
Harris-Stowe 2:00 PM
SE Missouri St
Robert Morris-IL 2:00 PM
SIU Edwardsville
Northland College 2:00 PM
North Dakota St
Milwaukee 2:00 PM
South Dakota
Northwestern St 2:30 PM
Arkansas
Saint Peters 3:00 PM
Cornell
St Katherine 3:00 PM
Fresno State
Haskell 3:00 PM
Oral Roberts
Wake Forest 3:00 PM
Richmond
Fla Gulf Coast 3:00 PM
Xavier
SD Christian 3:05 PM
Northern Ariz
Judson 3:30 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
Ill-Chicago 4:00 PM
Bradley
Loyola-Maryland 4:00 PM
Fairfield
Miss Valley St 4:00 PM
Houston
Lehigh 4:00 PM
UMBC
Delaware State 4:00 PM
Temple
Belmont 5:00 PM
Butler
Howard 5:00 PM
Fordham
NW Christian 5:00 PM
Nevada
UC Davis 5:00 PM
Washington St
Abilene Christian 5:00 PM
Grand Canyon
UCLA 5:30 PM
Alabama
Stony Brook 7:00 PM
Washington
Buffalo 7:00 PM
Wisconsin
CS-Bakersfield 9:00 PM
California
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Penn State 31
(25) Nebraska 42 FINAL
(24) USC 45
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
Florida
Drexel 11:00 AM
Miami-Ohio
Holy Cross 11:00 AM
Norfolk State
East Carolina 11:00 AM
South Florida
(10) Oregon State 12:00 PM
(8) Tennessee
Providence 12:00 PM
Boston College
Florida A&M 12:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Oakland 12:00 PM
Central Michigan
Chattanooga 12:00 PM
SIU-Edwardsville
Fairfield 12:00 PM
La Salle
St Francis-PA 1:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Milwaukee 1:00 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
Gardner-Webb 1:00 PM
Longwood
New Hampshire 1:00 PM
Manhattan
Bucknell 1:00 PM
Binghamton
Northeastern 1:00 PM
Albany
George Mason 1:00 PM
Towson
Richmond 1:00 PM
William & Mary
Tulane 1:00 PM
Cincinnati
North Florida 1:00 PM
Florida
(14) Georgia 1:00 PM
Seton Hall
Tennessee St 1:00 PM
(12) Kentucky
American Univ 1:00 PM
Wake Forest
Massachusetts 1:00 PM
Boston U
Quinnipiac 1:00 PM
Saint Josephs
Lafayette 1:00 PM
Saint Peters
Northwestern 1:00 PM
(20) Michigan State
Duquesne 1:00 PM
Lehigh
George Washington 1:00 PM
Loyola-Maryland
(17) Rutgers 1:00 PM
Indiana
(24) Green Bay 1:00 PM
Dayton
Western Mich 1:30 PM
Stony Brook
Davidson 1:30 PM
Virginia
UNC Greensboro 2:00 PM
LSU
Denver 2:00 PM
North Texas
VA Commonwealth 2:00 PM
Coppin State
Huston-Tillotson 2:00 PM
Houston Baptist
Lamar 2:00 PM
Rice
Miss Valley St 2:00 PM
Alabama
Saint Louis 2:00 PM
Eastern Illinois
Middle Tennessee 2:00 PM
Tenn Tech
Penn State 2:00 PM
(23) Iowa
Purdue 2:00 PM
Illinois
DePaul 2:05 PM
Illinois State
Sam Houston St 2:05 PM
Wichita State
South Dakota 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(4) Notre Dame 3:00 PM
UCLA
Coll of Charleston 3:00 PM
SC State
Alcorn State 3:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Dartmouth 3:00 PM
Niagara
Colgate 3:00 PM
Siena
Michigan 3:00 PM
Wisconsin
Fla Gulf Coast 3:00 PM
CS-Northridge
Yale 3:30 PM
(25) Arizona State
UC Santa Barbara 4:00 PM
(16) Stanford
Long Island 4:00 PM
Long Beach St
Jackson State 4:00 PM
Louisiana
Eureka 4:30 PM
Western Ill
Cornell 5:00 PM
(22) Syracuse
Temple 7:30 PM
Memphis
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close