CARNOUSTIE, Scotland (Reuters) – Balls are rolling so far at bone-dry Carnoustie that it will “drive some people batty” at the British Open this week, former champion David Duval said after a practice round on Monday.
Duval could not remember anything similar in his more than two decades of playing the Open, dismissing a suggestion that the 2006 Open at Royal Liverpool was just as baked out.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” the American told Reuters on the edge of the 18th green as he surveyed the browned-out links course in the late afternoon sunshine.
“It’s very unsettling, very, very different. Trying to figure out where your ball’s going to stop, it’s just unbelievable.”
The 2001 champion from Royal Lytham is considering not carrying a driver, figuring that he might not need anything longer than an iron off the tee.
“If you can get something that you can carry 220 yards into the breeze, you’re going to be fine,” he said.
“I’m at a loss for a club or two right now.”
Duval also thinks it is too early to say whether the unusual conditions will bring more players into contention, or perhaps whittle down the number who can win.
One thing he is confident of, however, is that some players will have trouble coping and adapting to what for many may be a brand new playing experience.
“It’s going to drive some people batty, that’s for sure,” he said.
Adding a further twist to the prospect of an intriguing championship is the forecast of testing winds for much of the week, reaching 12-18 miles per hour (19-28 kph) in Thursday’s first round, and gusting to perhaps 25 mph (40 kph) on Friday.
“I’m sure it will be up there with the firmest conditions I’ve ever seen,” defending champion Jordan Spieth said before heading out for a practice round.
“If we get wind with these firm conditions, that would certainly be a treat. You’ll see a lot of different strategies.”
But if players like Duval are considering leaving drivers in the locker room, others such as long-hitting Spaniard Jon Rahm are plotting a more aggressive strategy due to the rough being mostly wispier than usual.
“It’s a funny feeling where you’re not quite sure how it’s best to play here,” said Britain’s course record-holder Tommy Fleetwood, who shot 63 in much softer conditions last October during a European Tour event.
Irishman Padraig Harrington, who won in 2007 the last time the Open was held here, figures conditions will perhaps favor experienced players.
“There’s no perfect strategy that eliminates risk,” he said, explaining that bunting tee shots to stay short of the penal bunkers would not necessarily be a good game-plan.
“It’s very difficult to play short of the bunkers all the time. The beauty of the course is that there are a lot of different ways of playing it, but eventually you’re going to have to grow up and hit the shots.”
Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by Ken Ferris