The 2019 Open Championship at Royal Portrush should be played under benign weather. Well, benign for an Open Championship.
Following a messy final day of practice that sent Tiger Woods home early, the only expectation for the four official days of play is slight wind and a bit of precipitation. There’s a decent chance Wednesday was the worst day the course will see all week.
Here’s a look at the four-round forecast as of Wednesday evening. Nothing over 15 MPH is incredibly soft for this part of the world.
That’s a shame, too. Because this course can get menacing when the wind howls and the rain comes in sideways. That was apparent as players tried to hit the green on the monstrous par-3 16th, aptly named Calamity Corner.
And Opens are always better when the weather kicks up. Regardless, it’s not always the speed of the wind that matters most to golfers. Sometimes it’s the direction. Often, it’s only the direction. Woods interestingly talked about this earlier this week.
“My touch around the greens is right where I need to have it,” Woods said. “I still need to get the … shape of the golf ball a little bit better than I am right now, especially with the weather coming in and the winds are going to be changing. I’m going to have to be able to cut the ball, draw the ball, hit at different heights and move it all around.”
This is what makes an Open great, and even more so on an elite track like Portrush. Darren Clarke, who has lived here for several years and will hit the first tee shot on Thursday, said this week that no matter how hard or from where the wind blows, you always have options.
“The thing about Royal Portrush, because of our location here, we do get quite a lot of wind and bad weather or whatever, but there’s always a way to play this golf course,” Clarke said. “[Designer] Harry Colt, when he designed it, there’s always a way to use the ground. And the guys will be looking for those areas short of the green, if they do get in trouble, how they can use the ground to make the most of the opportunities.”
So wind or calm, rain or shine, this course will ask some intriguing questions of its golfers. If the weather rolls in then it will simply ask more of them. Regardless, it should be an all-time great Open Championship given this field, this track and the recent history at this major.