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British Open

With Temperatures in 80s, British Scores in the 60s

Golf: Broadhurst has two-shot lead after record-tying 65 on a hot day at Royal Lytham.


LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England — What's wrong with this picture? Sunny, temperatures in the low 80s, almost no wind. The British Open?

Yes, that's what they were playing Thursday, although it sure didn't seem much like it, mainly because it was the kind of day when even the golf balls could have used a little suntan lotion and more than 250 spectators were treated for heat-related problems.

Since Royal Lytham and St. Annes without wind is like tea without scones, the place simply wasn't the same. In fact, it was pretty much defenseless. Red-haired, pink-faced Paul Broadhurst from England tied the course record with a six-under-par 65 and took a two-shot first-round lead over eight players, seven of them carrying U.S. passports.

That line at four-under 67 formed behind Broadhurst and included Mark Brooks, Fred Couples, Mark O'Meara, Brad Faxon, Tom Lehman, Loren Roberts and Mark McCumber.

Hidemichi Tanaka of Japan also shot 67, two shots behind Broadhurst, a 30-year-old from Grendon in Warwickshire.

Afterward, Broadhurst was ecstatic.

"Tremendous, isn't it?" he said.

The same might be said for the weather, which can only be described as un-Opened.

Usually at these things, it's either cold and rainy or cold and windy.

But there was none of that on opening day at the baked Lancashire layout, where it was so warm and sunny, it reminded several players not of the British Open, but of something entirely different.

"Phoenix," Faxon said.

"Palm Springs," McCumber said.

"San Diego," O'Meara said.

"Florida," Greg Norman said.

Nick Faldo, who opened with a bogey and finished with a birdie on his way to a 68, said the conditions lead to an inevitable conclusion.

"With no breeze and a short course, I think the Americans are going to be very strong this week," he said.

They sure started that way Thursday, flexing their muscles and beating up on poor old Royal Lytham. Couples posted his 67 and had some strong feelings about it.

He just wished the weather could have been a little bit . . . worse?

"I still think it would be more fun to play in 30 mile-an-hour wind," Couples said. "I think that's what the British Open is all about. It's not about an 83-degree day with no wind. I like it when it's ugly."

Anyway, Couples was looking good through 11 holes. Back-to-back birdies after making the turn put him at five under. But he bogeyed the 342-yard 13th, the shortest par-four on the course, when he drove into a fairway bunker and wound up two-putting from 20 feet.

He finished by rolling in a 20-foot putt to save par at No. 18 after his three-wood drive found a bunker.

Now, about those bunkers. . . .

"They're easy to get into and hard to get out of," Couples said.

Lehman birdied three of the last five holes, which isn't supposed to be the way to get it done at Royal Lytham. He thought he should have scored better than his 67 and knew why he felt that way.

"Professional golfers, we're never happy," he said.

Maybe, but after 18 holes, many of them were feeling pretty good. The dry weather has hardened the fairways, leading to a lot of roll, and the greens remained firm, but slow.

Couples said he didn't need to fix any ball marks on the greens because there weren't any since the putting surfaces were so firm.

It was a long day for Couples, whose 7:55 a.m. tee time meant he had to get up at 5. He said he didn't like that very much.

"I don't care to get up at 5 o'clock to do anything," he said.

Many of the big names were up near the lead. Norman finished with a 71 and Nick Price was at 68, the same as Ernie Els. Jack Nicklaus was in a group at 69 that also included Jeff Maggert, Vijay Singh and Mark McNulty.

There were 24 players in the 156-player field who shot 69 or better.

But it was Broadhurst's day in the sun. He needed only 23 putts and had 13 one-putt greens. That's much different from how he played at the Scottish Open last week, when Broadhurst five-putted the last hole, finished with an 80 and tied for 16th.

"I'm capable of shooting good scores," he said. "I'm capable of missing cuts as well."

If nothing else, Broadhurst is a survivor. He turned pro in 1988 after financing his amateur career by driving a van, working as a gardener and as a technician in a fiberglass factory.

Broadhurst overhauled his swing last year and was relieved that it held up under pressure at Royal Lytham.

Now, the big question is whether that was as surprising as a warm, sunny day at the British Open.

" 'Tis summer here, you know," Broadhurst said.



At Lytham St. Annes, England--Par 71 18-Hole Scores

Paul Broadhurst: 32-33--65 -6

Mark McCumber: 32-35--67 -4

Hidemichi Tanaka: 31-36--67 -4

Brad Faxon: 32-35--67 -4

Fred Couples: 32-35--67 -4

Mark O'Meara: 32-35--67 -4

Tom Lehman: 32-35--67 -4

Loren Roberts: 32-35--67 -4

Mark Brooks: 32-35--67 -4

Nick Price: 32-36--68 -3

Ernie Els: 33-35--68 -3

Jim Furyk: 34-34--68 -3

Shigeki Maruyama: 32-36--68 -3

Nick Faldo: 35-33--68 -3

Padraig Harrington: 35-33--68 -3

Carl Mason: 31-37--68 -3

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