Former champion Tiger Woods had an anxious eye on the weather as the 147th Open Championship got under way at Carnoustie on Thursday.
Woods, who has not played in the Open due to injury since missing the cut at St Andrews in 2015, had to wait until 3:21pm to begin his campaign for a 15th major title and was wary of being caught out by bad weather.
The 42-year-old memorably had that problem at Muirfield in 2002, where his bid for an unprecedented calendar grand slam was blown away by a third round of 81, at that stage the worst score in his professional career.
“I had won the two previous major championships that year and I was really playing well,” Woods recalled. “I think I was only a few back of the lead. I think Stevie (Steve Elkington) went out there early, posted a good number, and (after the storm) was near the last group come Sunday.
“I hadn’t seen a weather change like that of all my years on Tour, not like that, not that quickly. Normally, if it does blow that hard or it does rain that hard, usually there’s some kind of lightning involved, and you’ve got to have a stoppage of play. There was no stoppage of play. We had to play on.”
Such bad weather forecast was not forecast at Carnoustie, although the wind was predicted to be at its strongest from mid-afternoon onwards, potentially making life difficult for Woods and playing partners Hideki Matsuyama and Russell Knox.
Former Masters champion Sergio Garcia was also among the later starters, along with the likes of 2007 Carnoustie winner Padraig Harrington, Ian Poulter, Bubba Watson and double US Open champion Brooks Koepka.
In his final appearance in the event, 1985 champion Sandy Lyle was due to hit the first shot at 6:35am. Lyle was joined in the opening group by former world number one Martin Kaymer and England’s Andy Sullivan.
Jordan Spieth was scheduled to get his title defence under way just before 10am alongside Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Olympic champion Justin Rose, who finished fourth in the Open as a 17-year-old amateur 20 years ago.