The Royal & Ancient (R&A) is under fire after a farcical 32 minutes of windswept controversy created havoc and dented a handful of players, including Australian Jason Day’s, British Open dreams.
Grand slam hopeful Jordan Spieth, former St Andrews champion Louis Oosthuizen and American leader Dustin Johnson are among a throng of players frustrated with officials for starting play in the extreme weather.
After a lengthy rain delay on Friday morning, 42 players were sent back out at 7am on Saturday to finish their rounds.
Despite gale force winds 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 a shot and Oosthuizen could only laugh as his ball blew all over the 13th green in comical fashion.
While four groups waited on the 11th tee due to impossible conditions on the green other players ahead were forced to carry on, creating an unfair playing ground.
It was just one of those situations when it’s that strong a wind, if one group isn’t playing, everyone shouldn’t be playing, because the guys that are actually playing and losing shots have got a disadvantage, Oosthuizen, who won the Open at St Andrews in 2010, said.
Johnson was able to claw his way back in front after a 10-hour delay and Oosthuizen is just three back while Day bogeyed both holes he finished in the wind but managed to get back in the mix.
“Clearly with the benefit of hindsight, it would have been better if play hadn’t started, but the decision was taken based on the evidence at the time,” R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson said citing an hour of testing before play started.
“I supported it fully, was an integral part of it, and I believe it was the right decision given the facts at the time we took it.
“What had happened, and the wind readings show it, is that the wind speeds after 7:00 increased by about six miles an hour over what we had been experiencing prior to the start of play, and that was enough to tip it over the edge.”
The big winners were the players already in the clubhouse, although one of those, Australian Geoff Ogilvy, didn’t take any joy in the unfairness of it all.
“Luckily enough I was tucked up in bed when it was at it worst. Tough for those boys to go out in circus conditions,” he said.
” In hindsight it was the wrong decision and a poor decision. Hopefully it hasn’t messed the tournament too much.”