Long delay at St Andrews as Woods bows out
Published 18/07/2015 | 16:55
THIS was the Longest Day for 42 Open Championship competitors and thousands of golf fans at St Andrews.
The championship was battered by a rainstorm on Friday which caused a delay of over three hours, and today, over ten and a half hours elapsed without any play due to storm force gales which caused a cessation at 7.30 a.m.
By mid-morning, R&A officials had decided it was futile to try and cram the rest of the second round, and all of the third and fourth rounds into a traditional Sunday finish.
They announced a Monday conclusion, only the second Monday finish in 144 stagings of this Championship, and the first since 1988 at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
Players and golf fans were hugely frustrated. For thousands of the supporters, this was their only chance to attend the Open of its four scheduled days.
R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson said: "We're obviously a day late, but we're going to play the third round tomorrow."
Dustin Johnson, who had to stop playing due to bad light on the 14th green on Friday night, recovered from a double-bogey six on that hole to get to ten under par and take the outright lead.
"I'm very pleased with my score in round two.
"I guess yesterday (Friday) when we started the round, it was difficult on the way out, and then coming back in, it even played more difficult.
"This morning when we started, it was almost impossible, but I managed to hang in there.
"Then, when we just went out and restarted, it was very tough.
"I managed to make some good pars and then birdie the last hole. So it was a good way to finish the day," said Johnson.
England's Danny Willett was on nine under and Scotland's Paul Lawrie, the 1999 Open champion, thrilled the home fans when he got to eight under.
A group of six, including 2010 Claret Jug winner Louis Oosthuizen and another Scot, Marc Warren were on seven under.
Just behind them, Irish amateur Paul Dunne was bracketed in a cohort on six under par.
That means Dunne lies only four shots off the lead of the Open - without having to strike a golf ball all day.
Greystones GC member Dunne could relax and stay out of the fuss caused by the long delays because he finished his first 36 holes on Friday night.
Dunne surpassed all expectations by filing scores of 69, on Thursday and 69 on Friday for a six under par total.
He was leading Irishman both days and most important, got the breaks of the bad weather on Friday and Saturday.
Jordan Spieth, who took 37 putts over his first two rounds, closed on four under par due to a three-putt from over 80 feet on the dreaded 17th, the Road Hole.
Afterwards he did his best to be philosophical about the situation, as he was among those early starters who were later called in for a lengthy wait to resume.
"I don't believe that had the R&A known what was going to happen, they certainly wouldn't have started us."
"The only thing they were able to go off of was what the officials themselves saw when they were out there before we even got out to the golf course.
I "a really solid round tomorrow, though, because Dustin is not letting up.
"He's the only one I can speak of, he and Hideki because I saw it first hand.
" Dustin is going to shoot a good round tomorrow with less wind, and I'm going to need to shoot a great round to really give myself a chance.
"To fall from two back to five back isn't exactly what I wanted on a Friday, but it could have been worse, could have been better.
" It is what it is, and if I can shoot something like 10-under in the last two rounds, I think I'll have a chance to win," said Speith.
Graeme McDowell, another Friday finisher, made the cut on level par, but Shane Lowry (+1 overall) and Darren Clarke (+2)
will take no further part in the championship.
Also gone is Tiger Woods (+7).