After Overnight Rains, Sun Shines On Day 2 At Open

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England (AP) ? Get ready for another day of going low at the British Open.

After heavy rain overnight inundated Royal Lytham & St. Annes, turning some bunkers into ponds and prompting the R&A to request fans delay their arrival so the grounds could dry out, the second round began as scheduled Friday morning under sunny, blue skies. There was just a hint of the feared breezes off the Irish Sea that give the links course its bite, setting up a repeat of the 60s-fest in the opening round.

Adam Scott tied the course record with a 6-under 64 on Thursday, while 52 other players shot no worse than par. For the first time since 1998, no one in the 156-player field opened with a score in the 80s.

"It was just like a nice walk in the park," Scott said.

The rain which has soaked Britain throughout the spring and summer largely stayed away during the first round, but returned with a vengeance during the night. One of the main spectator gates was closed at the start of play as workers furiously tried to push away all the standing water.

"We've had far more rain overnight than we were expecting, unfortunately," R&A chief executive Peter Dawson told BBC Radio. "But the course can take it as the drainage here is good. There is some standing water, but we can play golf, and the rules of golf will deal with the casual water."

The bunkers were the main issue. Already vulnerable to flooding because of the closeness of the sea and rains that have been over the top even by the standards of this water-logged nation, several traps had been transformed into mini-ponds by the latest batch of showers. There was also some standing water in the fairways, which the morning players tiptoed through after hitting their shots.

The early starters included big-hitting Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, who was just one stroke behind Scott after an opening 65. But the relatively unknown player was the exception on a leaderboard filled with major champions.

Paul Lawrie and Zach Johnson also started with 65s. Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els, Bubba Watson and Graeme McDowell were among those at 67. All know what it's like to win on golf's biggest stages.

Scott, who is still seeking his first major title, was determined not to take himself out of contention in the opening round at Royal Lytham, as he had done in the first two majors this year. Caddie Steve Williams gave him a pep talk to play the first hole like it was the last one. Even more inspiration came from the international flags posted above the massive grandstand down the left side of the first tee.

They weren't flapping. They were sagging.

In surprisingly calm conditions, Scott raced out to the lead and almost into the record book. He stood on the 18th tee needing a birdie to break the major championship scoring record. Instead, he settled for bogey, still good enough to leave him tied with the course record set by Tom Lehman in 1996.

Scott knew this was a day to put up a number well into the red.

"It was not what we've experienced in the practice rounds," he said. "I'm sure there's going to be some weather elements thrown at us the next three days, so just going to have to knuckle down to handle that. But I'm confident. My ball striking is good. I think I can get it around no matter what the conditions are."

Trying to end a four-year drought in the majors, Woods raced out to four birdies in seven holes to take the early lead, only to settle into a series of pars and one adventure through grass up to his knees for a lone bogey. In his third Open at Lytham, Woods said it was as easy as he had ever seen it play.

"The wind wasn't blowing, and we're backing golf balls up," Woods said. "That's something we just don't see."

Lawrie won his British Open in nasty conditions at Carnoustie in 1999, and the Scot showed he could handle the calm weather with equal aplomb. He ran off three birdies over the last five holes. Johnson, who won the 2007 Masters in the wind and cold at Augusta National, flirted with a major record-tying 63 until a bogey on the 17th hole. Colsaerts holed out with an 8-iron on the 481-yard second hole for eagle and added four birdies.

Brandt Snedeker was another shot behind at 66.

"We had a little wind early on the front nine, but it kind of calmed down the second half," Snedeker said "That's the best Americans are going to see over here."

___

Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

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Description : After heavy rain overnight inundated Royal Lytham & St. Annes, turning some bunkers into ponds and prompting the R&A to request fans delay their arrival so the grounds could dry out, the second round began as scheduled Friday morning under sunny, blue skies. There was just a hint of the feared breezes off the Irish Sea that give the links course its bite, setting up a repeat of the 60s-fest in the opening round.
Rating : 5
Reviewer : HTDailyNews
ItemReviewed : After Overnight Rains, Sun Shines On Day 2 At Open
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