“Follow the bouncing ball,” Appleby said under his breath.
Then, turning to his Australian coach and his New Jersey caddie more out of amazement than frustration, he said, “That ball could wind up 6 feet right of the flag and you'd never know it until you got there.”
“You can only be sure it's not next to the pitch mark,” coach Steve Bann said.
“That's because there is no pitch mark,” replied Joe Damiano, the caddie.
No one was quite sure what to expect when they arrived at the 135th British Open, which starts Thursday, because it has not been at Royal Liverpool in 39 years. More puzzling than the links, however, are the fastest, firmest and crustiest conditions anyone can remember in years.
This is the brown British Open.
A heat wave in Britain - the temperature reached 91 degrees on Wednesday - has caused the rough to die, leaving wispy strands of native grasses and fairways that are a mixture of yellow and brown. Yellow is the color of the grass, brown is where the grass has died.
Phil Mickelson usually takes off the day before a major to escape the commotion and play a casual round at a nearby course. He didn't see the point of that this time because “I can't find a course as firm as this.”
Someone suggested going to nearby John Lennon Airport, which didn't sound like a bad idea except for one thing:
“I'm pretty sure they won't cut any holes in the runway,” Mickelson said.