CARNOUSTIE, Scotland (Reuters) - Bernhard Langer has been there, seen it, done that and worn the tee-shirt during an illustrious 46-year career but the opening round of the British Open certainly represented a rare experience for the genial German.
With Britain having enjoyed a tropical heatwave for more than a month, the par-71 Carnoustie seaside layout has been baked into an oasis of parched, straw-colored fairways.
The ball is running for ever and the 156-strong field are dealing with alien conditions for a Scottish links.
“I don’t remember anything like this,” Langer told reporters after plotting his way to a two-over-par 73.
“Maybe two other tournaments, Royal Porthcawl in the Senior Open two years ago and St Andrews was like this for the British Open in 2000. It was really, really fast.
“Fairways were moving faster than the greens. You often don’t know what club to pull out of the bag because it just depends on the bounce.”
The 1985 and 1993 U.S. Masters champion’s encounter with the par-four closing hole typified the conditions.
“The last hole I played really good,” said Langer who has amassed 42 European Tour wins. “I hit a great drive, a perfect five-iron and landed just short of the hole and it went over the green”.
Asked if he had any iron shots that rolled out for long distances, Langer replied: “They all did. I can’t think of one that stopped. You’ve got to play really smart and pick your lines and hope you get some good bounces.
“It’s very, very tricky. It’s so firm you can’t calculate it or control it. One three-iron goes 240 yards, the next one goes 280.”
When all is said and done, though, Langer is simply grateful he can still mix it with the young guns at his age.
“If you’d have asked me 30 years ago, I would have had no idea what I was doing at 60,” said the German who has triumphed 37 times on the U.S. Senior Tour. “It’s been an amazing run.
“I’ve played some great golf the last 10, 15 years. I wouldn’t have known I would be capable of that or be healthy enough. You just don’t know what the future holds.”
Editing by Toby Davis