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Fierce Winds Make Birkdale A Brute

SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND | It’s the clinking and clanking that gives the game away, the noise that comes from flagpoles as they strain in a wind. That is when you know that a wind has gotten up. It’s the same when you walk along a harbour lined with boats at anchor. If there is a wind, the rigging will be jigging.
At Royal Birkdale yesterday you didn’t need to whet your forefinger and hold it up to find out whether the wind was blowing and from which direction. It was quite musical to listen to the noise it made on the flagpoles outside the iconic clubhouse. On a day like yesterday, the sun bronzed the skin and the wind burnished it. It was an ideal day for a sail, a walk, for watching golf. But a lovely day on which to play golf? Perhaps not.
“Phew!” Laura Davies said after her 73, 1-over par, a score that probably felt like 1 under. “It was hard work today. It was like a proper job.” Jessica Korda said: “It’s really hard on the greens and you’re standing over the ball and it’s ovulating and you don’t know whether to hit it or not.” Ovulating may not have been the word Korda had in mind but you know what she meant.
“This is a 20-25-mph wind,” Brian Hodgkinson, Birkdale’s head professional, said as he peered out of the window of his shop and listened to the ringing of the tills. “It’s nothing like it was at the 2008 Open when it was blowing at 50 mph and play had to be stopped. It has been difficult this week, this course. The rough was wet the first two days and that made matters difficult. But the wind is nothing to what it was in 1961 when Arnold Palmer won here. That year all the tents blew down.”


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