British Open Golf 2011: Will Winds Alter Rory McIlroy’s Chances of Title?

Heading into Thursday's British Open, Rory McIlroy is considered an 8-1 favorite after setting 12 U.S. Open records this season, including the greatest 72-hole score in the history of the tournament.

There is McIlroy, a 22-year-old up-and-comer being compared to a young Tiger Woods...and then there is everyone else.

The way McIlroy played at the U.S. Open, finished with an eight-stroke lead, some believe it would take nothing short of a hurricane to bring McIlroy's game down to normalcy at this point.

Well, there won't be a hurricane swirling around Royal St. George's during this year's British Open, but there will sure be strong winds.

There are reports that wind gusts could actually reach 30 mph during play, which figures to see many golfers grow flustered.

And it just so happens that the times McIlroy is set to tee off in the first and second rounds are projected to have the highest winds for each respective day.

According to USA Today, the strongest winds are expected when McIlroy tees off at 9:09 a.m. on Thursday and 2:30 p.m. on Friday.

So while we can't expect another monumental collapse from McIlroy, given his follow up to the Masters, McIlroy's game could indeed suffer in the British Open, and we could be left with a golfer who looks nothing like the Tiger of yore, or the Rory McIlroy of present.

We expected this tournament to be about McIlroy's ability to stay on course, and the rest of the contenders' abilities to put pressure on the young gun.

We expected this tournament to be about Luke Donald and Lee Westwood's ability to rise above their past, and maybe make a run at their first major wins.

All this time we've been thinking it was all about the golfers.

But Mother Nature can be cruel.

And those who tee off when Mother Nature is at her worst on Wednesday will find this out first hand.

McIlroy has shown he can bounce back from a collapse, following his final round at Augusta with four historic rounds at the U.S. Open.

He's shown the rest of the field doesn't scare him.

One thing he hasn't prepared for, however, is 30 mph winds.

-Ryan Rudnansky

TAGS: 2011 British Open, , golf