Weather poised to play huge factor at St. Andrews

Don't worry about the Old Course; she'll be just fine this week.

The weather forecast for Friday and Saturday portends two very nasty days of golf for the world's best looking to take on St. Andrews in the middle rounds of the British Open.

On Thursday evening, heavy rain is forecast for the area with potentially an inch falling on the ground. That should soften the course some for Friday morning, which could be an opportunity for the early half of the draw to score very well on the Old Course. However, heavy winds are expected Friday, gusting up to 40 mph.

For those fortunate enough to survive and make the weekend, Saturday is going to be even worse for the entire field. Winds will gust over 50 mph, conjuring images of the second round of the 2010 Open at St. Andrews. Rory McIlroy had to play in that wind, shooting an 80 that undid an opening 63 in benign conditions.

The R&A is reluctant to call play on the count of the weather. After all, it's a defining characteristic of the championship. However, there may be the remote possibility that things could get so bad on Saturday that play could be halted for a little while.

Sunday should be a shootout, with partly sunny and calm conditions expected. However, the expected Saturday carnage may limit how many players have a realistic chance of hoisting the Claret Jug.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.