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.”