- Associated Press - Saturday, July 16, 2011

SANDWICH, ENGLAND (AP) - The signs still said the Open and Royal St. George’s but, other than that, the place was virtually unrecognizable and absurdly wet.

Ah, the joys of links golf, wizened veterans nodded sagely, unfazed by the seeming eccentricity of people hitting little white balls along a mournful English coastline in the midst of a howling storm.

They actually play in this goo?

Hell, yes!

Rain drops as juicy as grapes and umbrella-destroying gusts grabbed the world’s best golfers by the scruff of their weatherproof (or so they thought) vests and put them through a blender on Saturday.

Messed ‘em up good.

Mashed up all those golfing skills they’ve honed over years, too.

Holes that aren’t friendly even under blue skies (apparently, such things have been spotted on occasion in southeast England) became simply evil.

Aside from the weather forecast, gravity was one of the few things that still seemed to be working as before, because balls did eventually drop back to Earth, often in unexpected places, after the winds had finished beating them black and blue.

But pretty much everything else was, well, strange.

“Brutal,” said Matthew Millar, the first man sent out into the gloom.

“Like going 18 holes with the heavyweight champion of the world,” said Trevor Immelman, who achieved the minor miracle of getting around in 2-over par.

“Impossible,” said Kennie Ferrie, who was 6 over.

“Unreal,” said U.S. Open and Masters runner-up Jason Day.

“To be honest,” said Edoardo Molinari, “I had some fun.”

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