SOUTHPORT, England -- There's warm and there's warming up.
Retief Goosen did not confuse the two on Thursday.
Faced with the proposition of getting loose on the Royal Birkdale driving range before his 7:58 a.m. tee time or mostly staying indoors where nobody was dumping buckets of rain on his head, the two-time major champion made the veteran call.
It was like being a kid again. Forget getting properly loose, let's just run to the first tee and play, huh?
"Well, I thought I was warming up more standing inside in the warm than hitting balls outside," Goosen said. "I was definitely warming up a lot more inside than outside."
The 39-year-old managed to accomplish the latter anyway, finishing with a 1-over 71 to take a share of the early clubhouse lead with Canada's Mike Weir during the first round of the 137th British Open.
Goosen said he got up at 2 a.m. because he heard the rain falling steadily outside, and it didn't slow down by a drop by the time it was time to get loose on the driving range. He waited and waited, hoping the winds and wetness would disappear. Other players said they were hitting 8-irons about 100 yards into a stiff breeze.
"But it was too cold and wet," he said. "I couldn't hit the ball. So I hung around in the TaylorMade van for a while, eventually had to brave it and went out there about 7:25. I hit about 20 balls, hit a few putts and then went."
It went well, too, mainly.
Despite bogeys on three of the last four holes, Goosen's score was the best over the first seven hours of play, during which the rain off the gray Irish Sea was at its unrelenting, spitting worst.
Goosen, with two U.S. Open titles to his credit but no PGA Tour wins since mid-2005, has always been a man of relatively few words, but this week his prep has been likewise minimalist. He didn't show up until Wednesday afternoon and played only 18 holes of practice.
"I think it was a pretty good move, you know?" he said. "We had similar conditions yesterday, so I figured I don't want to play in this sort of weather too much."
After a solid start, he made a double-bogey on the fifth hole and was headed for trouble on the difficult sixth -- a par-4 that has been playing so tough, many in the field have not reached the green in regulation -- when he chipped in for par from 20 yards. His score could actually have been much better, one notable observer said.
"That was as high as he was going to shoot today, which is a good sign, isn't it?" defending champion and playing partner Padraig Harrington said of Goosen's steady effort. "Probably his high number was 1 over."
While he's nowhere near the peak form he enjoyed in the middle of the decade, Goosen has shown flashes of regaining his mojo after sliding to No. 37 in the world rankings. In his last American start, at the U.S. Open, he finished in a tie for 14th despite two rounds of 76 or higher.
"Yeah, the season has been up and down," he said. "You know, I'm hitting a few good rounds out there, I just need to put four good rounds together. That's been a problem, just a little bit of inconsistency."
Sounds like the next problem to solve during a wet Open week will be this: Getting warm and staying warm.