I COUNTED them out and, as it happens, someone else counted them back in. This was good because it meant I could stay in the Media Centre, snuggled up to a very decent latte while the men who hit the shots on my behalf got drenched while being blown this way and that.

Brilliant wasn’t it? Okay, this may make me a wee bit of a sadist but, hell, why not. For great tracts of the year the world’s best pros are cosseted and caressed, wrapped in cashmere and lots of other free quality stuff so it is good that now and then the elements conspire to give them a healthy smack.

As wind, rain and Scouse accents ravaged good, old Royal Birkdale on this opening morning, The Open Championship roared into life. Sadly, my main bet Hunter Mahan rather diluted my joy by returning a 10 over par 80 but at least he birdied the last to suggest he was trying his heart out all the way.

While Mahan was my main focus the rest of the world naturally concentrated on defending champion Padraig Harrington. The full-size leprechaun had spent the early part of the week fretting and fussing about a right wrist injury. Apparently. Personally, I was never too bothered about this and not just because it wasn’t my right wrist.

Like most pro sportsmen, Harrington tends towards the hypochondriac view of life, a place where niggles herald major operations and a slight sniffle becomes an emergency. Certainly there was no sign of a problem as the champ battled the storm, returning eventually with a four over par 74 that, to my eyes anyway, just about represented par here in these conditions.

Like everybody else the game plan for Padraig was simple…survive to fight another day. The old thought that you can’t win it on Day One but you can lose it never rang truer than during the morning of this opening round. Actually I saw several people lose it as I wandered around early doors. Few of these were golfers.

The majority were blonde, extraordinarily tanned young women who were dressed for cocktail parties complete with high heels and light summer frocks. They were, I suspect, heading for a corporate lunch rather than a yomp around the sandhills od this majestic course. On the other hand they may just have been really up for it. What is ‘it’? I daren’t think. Still I have to admire their chutzpah. Especially the girl who slipped in front of me, muddied her wonderfully white trousers, picked herself up and turned to her companion before saying in broad Liverpudlian, “Sod it, I knew I should have put the brown ones on.”

What I also know is that if you thought it was windy here this morning then you should have been where I was last night. This was the end of the pier – second only to Southend in length – where the Golf Monthly team entertained some of the great and the good from the golf industry, an ambition helped hugely by the Brazilian Tourist Authority and the four samba dancers they brought with them.

Watching this spectacle, and enjoying themselves hugely, were Ryder Cup rivals Nick Faldo and Paul Azinger. It’s only a few months since Azinger used a word beginning with ‘p’ and ending with ‘rick’ to describe the European captain but last night all seemed sweetness and light. Reality or smart PR? I suspect we’ll find out over the next two months and I know which side I’m betting on.