Open slated for Monday finish after wind delay

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2015, 12:30 pm

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – The Open Championship will have its first Monday finish in 27 years. 

The R&A announced Saturday a change in schedule: The second round, delayed by at least 10 hours because of high winds, will resume Saturday afternoon. Players will complete the third round Sunday and the final round on Monday. 

The Open hasn’t had a Monday finish since 1988, when Seve Ballesteros won at Royal Lytham. 

Tournament rules director David Rickman said that the R&A considered playing 36 holes on Sunday, but “the best conclusion was to accept that a Monday finish was the best answer.”

It is the first men’s major to finish on a Monday since Lucas Glover won the 2009 U.S. Open at soggy Bethpage Black.   

Play was suspended at 7:32 a.m. local time Saturday – only 32 minutes after the second round resumed – after 40-mph gusts made the course unplayable. Thirty-nine players have yet to complete two rounds, and the final group still has 10 holes to play.

Play is expected to resume at 6 p.m. local time, assuming there are acceptable wind conditions. 

Significant flooding suspended play Friday at St. Andrews, when the second round was delayed by more than three hours as the maintenance staff squeegeed the greens and pumped standing water out of the fairways.

This was even more treacherous, with howling winds that made putting even more difficult than full shots.

“You’re standing over a putt wondering if the ball is going to roll into your putter,” Brendon Todd said. “That’s an unnerving thought.” 

Leader Dustin Johnson had a few unnerving moments of his own. When play resumed, he had a dicey shot from short of the 14th green. His pitch shot barely carried the ridge, but the wind blew it back down the slope and onto the front of the green. He three-putted from there and recorded his second bogey in a four-hole span.

Johnson and Jordan Spieth, who is 5 under, have three holes remaining in their second round.

“Shouldn’t have even started,” Spieth grumbled as he walked off the course. 

Louis Oosthuizen, only two shots off the lead, got one of the worst breaks in the weather. He was facing a 3-foot par putt when a gust of wind moved his ball about a foot from the hole, then about 6 feet past the cup.

In a statement, the R&A said that officials were on the course at 6 a.m. to assess whether the course was playable. “Balls were not moving on the greens and while the conditions were extremely difficult, we considered the golf course to be playable,” the organization said.

Wind gusts then increased by 10 to 15 percent, according to the R&A, “and this could not be foreseen at the time that play was restarted and made a material difference to the playability of the golf course.” 

That didn’t stop the criticism of the R&A.

Many wondered why the setup staff rolled the greens at 10 on the Stimpmeter when the forecast called for high winds; greens running at 9 likely would not have caused the ball to oscillate.

Another point of contention: Officials stopped play on the 11th green – one of the most exposed parts of the course – while allowing the rest of the field to continue their rounds. 

“It needs to be a fair contest and wasn’t this morning,” David Hearn tweeted. 

Prior to the 2010 Open here at St. Andrews, the last wind delay during the year’s third major was at Royal Birkdale in 1998, when gusts reached 40 mph.

“Every R&A official in player dining is getting yelled at,” said Ted Scott, Bubba Watson’s caddie. "Lots of players pissed in here.”

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.