The British Open will conclude on a Monday for only the second time in its 155-year history with the R & A surrendering to the weather gods at St Andrews.
After suspending play for a second time just 32 minutes into Saturday’s second round resumption, Royal & Ancient officials decided the Open couldn’t possibly finish as scheduled.
Despite the disruption, it was initially hoped the 39 affected players, including joint tournament leader Dustin Johnson, grand slam contender Jordan Spieth and Australian challenger Jason Day, would be ready as planned to tee-off for their third and final round on Sunday.
Johnson earlier on Saturday lost his outright lead before fierce winds lashing St Andrews rendered conditions unplayable.
After being halted because of darkness late on Friday night following a three-hour rain delay, barely half an hour of play was possible before the horn was sounded when balls began moving on greens.
Danny Willett, safely in the clubhouse at nine under for the championship, was among the winners as a Johnson bogey on the 12th gave the unheralded Englishman a share of the lead.
Jason Day was wretchedly unlucky, missing a six-footer for par on the 13th seconds before the horn sounded.
Having also missed a six-footer for par on the 12th when play resumed at 7am local time, Day suddenly dropped from eight under to six under, leaving Adam Scott the leading Australian at seven under for the tournament.
An overnight downpour that flooded the famous Scottish links layout initially delayed the Friday’s start to the second round by several hours, resulting in more than a quarter of the field needing to work overtime on Saturday.
Chasing his first major title, Johnson went two clear after picking up four birdies in 10 holes before dropping his first shot of the tournament with an edgy three-foot missed putt on the par-3 11th as buffeting winds hit the Old Course.
Despite dropping another shot on the 13th, Johnson – who had an eagle putt to win last month’s US Open only to take three to get down from 15 foot to hand Spieth the title – remains on course to break his grand slam duck.
Johnson and Willett, who is striving to become the first Englishman since Nick Faldo in 1992 to win the Open after adding a 69 to his first-round 66, enjoy a one-stroke buffer over Scotland’s 1999 champion Paul Lawrie.
Scott shares fourth place with British hope Marc Warren (69), Americans Zach Johnson (71) and Robert Streb (71) and South African Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 champion at St Andrews who was playing alongside Day and Tiger Woods.
Scott fired a stylish 67, never looking like dropping a shot on Friday, to lead Australia’s push for the Claret Jug.
Spieth, seeking history via a third straight major to open the season, was five under through 14 holes, with Australians Geoff Ogilvy (68) and Steven Bowditch (69) also four off the pace.
Woods, who won the Open twice at St Andrews in 2000 and 2005, will miss the projected even-par halfway cut after slipping to five over for the tournament through 12 holes.
Legends Faldo and Tom Watson have played their last competitive rounds at the home of golf after also missing the cut.