Open Championship 2015: Scottish hoolie blows golfers off course

Publish Date : 2021-03-30

Open Championship 2015: Scottish hoolie blows golfers off course

That's how Scottish folk describe the fierce gusts that often patrol the east coast of the country, battering and buffeting as they go.

Only half an hour's action was possible in the morning before the Old Course was deemed unplayable -- enough time for the Open Championship's overnight leader Dustin Johnson to drop a shot after his ball went walkabout in the wind.

After a full 10-hour delay, the American recovered to birdie the last hole and restore his narrow lead at 10 under par -- one in front of England's Danny Willett, with Scotland's 1999 Open champion Paul Lawrie a further shot back.

Read: Open Championship leaderboard

That came after tournament organizers, the Royal & Ancient, confirmed that the tournament will conclude on Monday for only the second time in its 155-year history.

Already behind schedule due to Friday's torrential rain, their decision to start at 7 a.m. sharp was an unpopular one with the players.

Jordan Spieth, aiming to win his third straight major and keep alive his hopes of a grand slam, was heard to say on the course: 'We never should have started.'

Resuming on hole 14, a chip by his playing partner Johnson came to rest on the greenside slope before being blown a further 15 feet away from the hole by the wind.

Though the 31-year-old smiled ruefully, it led to a dropped shot and could be costly come the end of the tournament.

'No, I wasn't angry, I was almost laughing because the ball was just blowing across the green,' Johnson later told a press conference.

'Fortunately it happened in the end part of the second round, so we've still got a lot of golf to play. I can't do anything to change it.'

Asked if he was annoyed about the decision to play this morning, his tone was philosophical: 'Maybe a little. Everyone was out there, so it wasn't like I was the only one on the course.

'I know why they went out. If we could play, we could have finished the round and even started the third round.

'But when they blew the horn to start and then blew the horn to stop, to me the conditions hadn't changed at all, it was the same. I think we all were wondering what was going on.'

Johnson also reported some complaints from disgruntled players as they filtered back in from the morning, and admitted: 'I don't complain too much, but yeah, I'm sure I said a few things.'

But he remains in fine shape to bag a maiden major at the halfway stage of the tournament.

Some people interpret Johnson's loping stride, slow South Carolina drawl and relaxed demeanor as the traits of a man who isn't as focused as those around him.

True, he can be careless at crucial times.

At the 2010 PGA Championship he grounded his club in what was deemed to be a bunker on the last hole and received a two-shot penalty that ruled him out of a potential playoff.

Just a few weeks back he had a putt from 12 feet to win the U.S. Open but took three, gifting Spieth the title.

Though he insisted prior to the tournament that he's over those dramatic events at Chambers Bay, Saturday's bad break must have had him cursing the golfing gods once more.

It can't have helped having Spieth, a permanent reminder of what might have been, just yards away from him all three days of the championship so far.

The 21-year-old is Johnson's junior by a decade and already has two major titles in his locker.

Spieth dropped a shot at the tricky 17th but pulled it back with a birdie at the last hole to remain five shy of Johnson, and poised to strike over the next two days.

'I believe I'm still in contention,' he told reporters after signing for a par 72. 'I still believe I can win this tournament. I need a really solid round tomorrow, though, because Dustin is not letting up.

'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.'

On the conditions, he reiterated his stance from the morning — that the players should not have been sent out to start with.

'Had the R&A known what was going to happen, they certainly wouldn't have started us,' Spieth said.

'The officials obviously were out there and balls were not moving, they were staying in position, so that means it's playable. From what I saw video-wise and what I saw first hand with Dustin when we got out there, it wasn't the case.

'After you see a shot like Dustin's, which was the first shot that we saw ... I think it immediately should have been called there.'

The irony of the long delay was that the sun barely disappeared from view once.

By the time play resumed, it was clear that a fair chunk of the spectators had spent the long delay getting acquainted with many of the bars that fringe the course.

As the final groups rolled in the rowdy and refreshed galleries made their way to the final stretch of holes to welcome weary golfers back towards the clubhouse.

Australia's Jason Day -- a consistent major contender -- also fell foul of the wind, bogeying the two holes he completed in the morning session, before recovering to be tied for fourth on seven-under 137 at the close, three shots behind Johnson.

There he sat with compatriot Adam Scott, the 2013 Masters champion, Scotland's Marc Warren, plus Americans Zach Jonson and Robert Streb.

Also on that mark was Louis Oosthuizen, winner of the Open last time it was held at St. Andrews in 2010.

The South African and Day played with Tiger Woods, a three-time winner of the title, twice at the Old Course.

The 14-time major champion suffered the humiliation of having to wait around all day, merely for his early exit to be confirmed.

Only seven players recorded a worse score than the 39-year-old, who sent out a distress signal with only his second shot of the tournament — finding the Swilcan Burn rather than the first green.

He denied being 'buried and done' before taking to the links on Thursday, but now has a job on his hands to prove it in the coming weeks and months.

'I think I only made three birdies in two days -- that's not very good,' Woods told reporters after missing the cut at the Open for just the second time. 'The golf course wasn't playing that hard. I just didn't get much out of any of the rounds.'

It'll be five years before Woods returns to St. Andrews. 'I'll probably have less hair then and hopefully a little better game,' he joked.

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