Only the second Monday finish in history to an Open Championship is now planned, after severe wind disruption to an already weather-affected event.
The R&A has since confirmed their hope – and it can only be that – to conclude the second round on Saturday with play restarting at 4pm, with the third round taking place on Sunday and conclusion on Monday. The only previous need for that scenario was in 1988, when Seve Ballesteros claimed the Claret Jug.
Spieth was among those who returned to the Old Course at 7am with the intention of completing their delayed second rounds. Those golfers were on the course for just 32 minutes, with the Masters and US Open champion believing it was unnecessary for them to be out there at all.
This point seemed valid – golf balls were being blown around or off greens with comical regularity amid gusting winds reaching 45mph, which had been forecast. It is only due to ease from 3pm on Saturday.
Spieth’s disquiet was obvious during television coverage. “We should never have started,” said the 21-year-old. Spieth at least had not been tangibly damaged by the brief on-course spell; his playing partner, Dustin Johnson, dropped a shot on the 14th hole to slide back into a share of the lead with Danny Willett.
Ted Scott, the caddie for Bubba Watson, was as displeased as Spieth. Scott tweeted: “Every R&A official in player dining is getting yelled at. Lots of players pissed [off] in here.”
Louis Oosthuizen, who won the 2010 championship here, pointed to the element of farce. He said: “Got lucky, then unlucky. My ball was blown to 1ft from the hole, then further to 6ft without me striking it at all.”
The Englishman Lee Westwood offered some veiled digs at the R&A on social media. Westwood pointed towards a “strange decision” in respect of his group. “They seemed to stop play out on 11 and allowed the rest of us to carry on playing,” Westwood said.
As things stand, the cut line still hasn’t been determined. The R&A said it would announce ticket policies for Sunday and Monday in due course.
Golf’s ruling body understandably defended their Saturday morning actions. “We spent an hour at the far end of the course, before play started, assessing whether the course was playable,” said the R&A in a statement.
“Balls were not moving on the greens and, while the conditions were extremely difficult, we considered the golf course to be playable.
“Gusts of wind increased in speed by 10 to 15% [up to 45mph] after play resumed. This could not be foreseen at the time that play was restarted and made a material difference to the playability of the golf course.”
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