Open officials deny wind-delay favouritism

Open officials deny wind-delay favouritism

The chairman of The Open’s championship committee has dismissed as “absolute nonsense” the accusation that they showed favouritism in deciding when to stop play during the second round at St Andrews.

World number one Tiger Woods had played only three shots when the action was suspended at 2.40pm amid gusts of more than 40mph.

German Martin Kaymer was quoted as saying later: “Zach Johnson and myself had asked officials to stop play earlier.

“On the 12th and 13th greens the ball was moving for us. Maybe they were protecting the better ones who were playing later.”

Chairman Michael Brown said: “Absolute nonsense. What precipitated the suspension was that quite quickly officials at four different greens reported that balls were moving.”

And Royal and Ancient Director of Rules Grant Moir, who handles course set-up for the week, added: “There was nothing further from my mind than who’s where. The only thing under consideration was whether it was playable.”

Ryder Cup players Oliver Wilson and Thomas Levet criticised some of the pin placements given the conditions.

Wilson, who shot 79, commented: “It was unplayable. It was a joke out there. Every single pin was on the high point on every green. I think they have made a mockery of the tournament and that’s a bit of a shame.”

Levet, who also missed the cut after an 81, stated: “For six or seven holes in a row you have things that happen on that golf course that never happen anywhere else in the world. It becomes stupid.”

On the hole locations Brown stated: “I thought they were pretty fair. They were designed to be challenging, but they were designed in the expectation of wind – and the course had had a lot of rain.

“The forecast for today is for more wind, but 5mph less than yesterday and that has been taken into consideration.”

The only player who suffered a one-stroke penalty for his ball moving on a green after he had addressed it was American Brian Gay in his 83.

“Bizarrely that came on the 16th, which was not one of those we were particularly troubled by,” said R&A Rules secretary David Rickman. “He called it on himself.

“We had reported to us 20 instances of balls at rest being blown and that gives an element of the scale of the issue we faced. I would think that that is an unusually high number.

“It was a case of repeated attempts to get the ball back in its original position. But we were so focused with what was going on at the far end of the course that, to be honest, I couldn’t have even told you what time it was and who was on the golf course.

“It’s not about what happened to whom. Our record is as demonstrated at Birkdale a couple of years ago in that we will keep going if at all possible.

“There was a spike in the gusts and Met Office records will show that, with one or two over 40mph.”

Rory McIlroy said he felt the wind was even stronger on the resumption 65 minutes later as he collapsed from 63 to 80, but Rickman said: “That’s not what our wind readings would indicate. They were comparable and it was still very blowy. We had a number of instances of balls moving afterwards.

“We did feel having talked to the Met Office that the spike in gusts speeds had passed and we saw a measurable, albeit slight, reduction, so we started again.

“It’s all a judgement and I accept some are not going to like the decision, but when we had a succession of problems we concluded the the course was not playable.”

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