Golf’s not meant to be fair. It’s also meant to played outdoors.
When the fate of the draw looms so large as it’s done at Royal Troon these last two days, it certainly doesn’t feel right. But it’s part of the game of links golf.
A two-tee start might eliminate some of the discrepancy we saw over the first two rounds, which saw those with early-late times cop all the bad weather and those in the late-early half with a bit of rain but no wind.
All but one of the top 20 on the leaderboard this morning were in the weather-favoured half of the draw, the lone exception being Rory McIlroy.
You’d need your own nuclear threat to force the R&A from the tradition of the one-tee start, and anyway it’s pretty much impractical at venues like Royal Troon where the 10th tee is at the furthest point of the property from the clubhouse.
The oddity – and irony – is that those who had early-late times probably were relishing the thought of it on Wednesday. The forecast had for a calm morning turning to windier conditions later on. Getting a head start on the first day is not to be sniffed at, may think that early-late times are preferable at all Opens.
Instead, by the time they headed for the first tee yesterday for their second rounds, that end of the field must have had their hearts in their boots.
Heavy rains had hit the morning starters yesterday but not much wind, and the elements together are the combination most feared. They duly alighted for the afternoon wave.
Two of the top players in the world, McIlroy and Jason Day, made a defiant stand for much of the afternoon. Day, flirting with the cut, had four birdies in five holes while McIlroy even hinted he might get up within shouting distance of Phil Mickelson as he went to five-under after seven.
He ran into the weather and a couple of careless three putts, but was philosophical.
“It’s the Open Championship, some draws go your way and some draws don’t,” said the Irishman. “The last Open I played, I got the good end of the draw and good things happened that week.
“I’m not going to let being on the wrong side ruin my mood or ruin my week. I feel like I’ve played very well and that gives me optimism going into the weekend.
“So if I can get off to a similar start tomorrow and get a little closer to the leaders, play the back nine a little better, you never know.”
Day eventually finished with a two-under 70 that was the best of the afternoon wave, and remains upbeat.
“I was kind of hoping for days like this where it is harder, only the guys in the morning definitely had the advantage over the last two days,” he said.
“That’s totally fine. You get lucky in draws like this playing the Open Championship.
“But it’s nice to be able to come into a day like this knowing that I need to play good golf, get on top of my game and shoot 70, get myself back to making the cut.
“Hopefully over the next two days I can get myself back into contention. That would be nice.”
Rickie Fowler battled for a 72 to finish at one-under, but thought it wasn’t even as bad as a previous experience.
“That wasn’t that bad compared to St Georges (in 2011),” he said. “There were times it was blowing pretty good and coming in sideways, but I remember at St Georges the Saturday there I couldn’t even use my umbrella.
“I think it’s pretty clear which side of the draw was better for scoring, but that’s The Open. I’m not going to complain about it. I’ve been on the good side, I’ve been on the bad side.”
There was a fair degree of fortitude out there as well. Danny Willett, Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth all rallied late on to make the cut on the mark, Spieth cutting through the draw question with some welcome clarity.
“It’s tough when we all realise before we go out that you’re on the bad end of the draw,” he said. “I could certainly blame the draw if I was playing really well and I was at three or four under. But at four over my game is not major championship-winning calibre those first two rounds.
“You wish your score didn’t matter when you play in this. You wish this was just a round with your buddies where you go into the clubhouse and have one or seven pints afterwards.”
One or seven, Jordan?
“I think I’m teeing off early tomorrow so somewhere in between,” he said, smiling. “But if I’d missed the cut, you know what number.”