Weather leaving its mark as flooded fairways impacting schedule at St Andrews
Published 17/07/2015 | 13:59
Torrential early rain left its mark on the Old Course at St Andrews as play was suspended for more than three hours and continued to have an effect when play restarted.
Many greens and fairways, particularly the first and 18th, were flooded, which meant the handful of golfers on the course at 6.46am were brought in with none having been able to complete even one hole in the second round of the 144th Open Championship.
Groundstaff worked feverishly to get the course playable, but once it got under way again at 10am a consequence was significantly slower greens.
South African Jaco van Zyl, who teed off in the first group at 6.32am, returned to hole his three-foot birdie putt but that only got him back to six over.
By the time Zach Johnson, joint second after an opening 66, teed off at a revised time of 11.14am conditions had improved immeasurably with only a brisk wind to deal with.
However, pace putting was the problem and the American Johnson left a 25-foot birdie putt six inches short at the first with playing partner Southport's Tommy Fleetwood, at three under, shaving the hole with his effort.
Yorkshireman Danny Willett, in the group behind, also could not make inroads into his six-under total at the downwind first.
With the last group now scheduled to tee off at 7.27pm, many players will have to return on Saturday to complete their second rounds.
But R&A chief executive Peter Dawson insists, unlike last year at Royal Liverpool when it took the unprecedented step of deciding in advance of the third round to have a two-tee start on the Saturday in an attempt to avoid bad weather forecast later in the day, that it will not be making significant changes to the order of play.
"[We've] only done it once at Hoylake," he told the BBC. "The prospect of changing it during competition (ie after groups have started) and doing a two-tee start is not something we are going to do.
"The order you play the holes in on a links course is very important."
Dawson said the plan was "to finish round two tomorrow" (Saturday) with a strategy of catching everything up by scheduled finish on Sunday.
"The forecast is for very strong winds so it is a very tough course today and tomorrow (Friday and Saturday) but, because we have had so much rain, it's nowhere near as fiery as it can be so I'm very hopeful that (wind) won't affect play," he said.
"Our target is to finish on Sunday. We do have the ability to go into Monday (last time that happened was at Lytham in 1988) but we certainly hope not to."
Willett's last nine rounds on the Old Course have produced just one score above 70 and he was on track for another low number thanks to birdies on the second and par-five fifth, which was the easiest hole on day one.
That took the 27-year-old into the outright lead on eight under par, only for Johnson to also pick up shots on the fifth and sixth to join him at the top of the leaderboard.
Scotland's Marc Warren had been within a shot of the lead when he birdied the fourth, fifth and seventh, but a bogey on the eighth dropped the Glaswegian back to six under.