The R & A is under fire after a farcical 32 minutes of windswept controversy created havoc and dented Jason Day’s British Open hopes.
Grand slam hopeful Jordan Spieth and American leader Dustin Johnson were among a throng of players left frustrated with Royal and Ancient officials for starting play in extreme winds.
After a lengthy rain delay on Friday morning, 42 players were sent back out at 7am on Saturday to finish their rounds including Day, Spieth and Johnson.
Despite gale force gusts blowing balls around on the greens and making putting near impossible, play carried on for more than half an hour, during which Johnson lost his outright lead and Day dropped two shots.
At one point, Johnson went to mark his ball on the green only to see it blow back off it, essentially costing him his outright lead.
When finally pulled off the course, Spieth and Johnson both questioned officials as to why they were sent out there in the first place.
Louis Oosthuizen, the champion at St Andrews in 2010, laughed at his rules official when initially told to play on as his ball first rolled closer to the hole before he could mark it, and then blew further away.
English hope Lee Westwood was quick to question the officials.
“Bit of a strange decision here @TheOpen. They seemed to stop play out on 11 and allowed the rest of us to carry on playing,” he tweeted.
Canadian David Hearn also chimed in.
“More than disappointed in the R&A. Some groups hit only 1 shot while others played on. It needs to be a fair contest and wasn’t this morning,” Hearn tweeted.
With high winds forecast throughout the day, there was no immediate word when play would resume bringing the prospect of a Monday finish well and truly into play.
The last British Open pushed to a Monday was in 1988 when Seve Ballesteros triumphed at Royal Lytham and St Annes after rain washed out the third round.
On the flipside, the decision may have helped those in the clubhouse, including Adam Scott, who was just two off the lead after his second-round 67.
Down the leaderboard, three more Australians fighting to make the cut had their chances severely dented by the winds.
Adam Bland took bogeys on both the eighth and ninth holes, Scott Hend a double on the ninth and Scott Arnold a bogey on the 10th to all fall to three over.
The projected cut remains at even par, although if the wind prevails, there’s a slight chance it could drift to one over.
The other Aussies on course are John Senden (+1 on the 11th green) and Greg Chalmers (-3 on the 11th tee).