GULLANE, Scotland —
“I absolutely fell in love with it, to be able to dink a 5-iron from 150 yards and bump it on the ground, or vice versa — have 260 out and hit a 4-iron and it bounces over the green. That, to me, is pretty neat. Because we play everywhere around the world — an airborne game where you have to hit the ball straight up in the air and make it stop. Here it’s different. A draw will go one distance, a fade will go another, and they’re so dramatic. And I just absolutely love it.”
True, adjusting to links golf can just as easily take place at Muirfield, where the British Open starts today. Defending champion Ernie Els came down from Castle Stuart and has stayed at Muirfield, wrapping up his final practice round Wednesday just after 6 p.m.
But there are no tricks at Muirfield. There are hardly any blind shots. Most of the bunkers are in plain view from the tee. That’s one of the reasons that Muirfield is a favorite of so many players, who use words like “fair” and “honest test,” which aren’t always heard on other links courses.
“I think of all the Open venues, it’s probably one of the least quirky ones,” Donald said Wednesday. “It’s quite straightforward. Obviously with the weather conditions, it’s playing firm and fast. It’s going to be about controlling your golf ball this week. And the weather looks good. The course is set up just the way the R&A would like it. It’s bouncy. It’s a little bit of a breeze out there. Firm conditions are a good protector of the golf course, and we certainly have that this week.”