Play resumes at rain-hit Open

By AFP
Published: July 17, 2015
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Play resumes as rainy clouds depart. PHOTO COURTESY: THE OPEN

Play resumes as rainy clouds depart. PHOTO COURTESY: THE OPEN

ST ANDREWS: Play resumed at 10:00 a.m. (0900GMT) Friday in the British Open second round following a three and a half hour delay caused by torrential rain.

The bad weather sweeping in off the North Sea had been widely forecast, and it arrived on time just as the first players out reached the first green in the early morning gloom.

By 8:00 a.m. (0700GMT) large puddles had formed on the Old Course’s fairways and greens as the deluge continued

Greenkeepers worked furiously with squeegies and pumps to try and clear away the standing water and with the rain finally easing, organisers announced a 10 a.m. resumption.

They also decided that all players would start as scheduled from the first tee instead off alternate 1st and 10th tee starts to make up for lost time.

First round leader Dustin Johnson had been scheduled to tee off at 2:34 p.m, playing with Masters and US Open champion Jordan Spieth, who is two shots back.

But the delay pushed them back to 5:48 p.m., meaning that they, and the other later starters, had no hope of completing their second round by day’s end.

Birdies had been aplenty during Thursday’s opening chapter at the Home of Golf, but conditions gradually worsened during the day.

Johnson for one, seeking his first major title, was happy that he produced his opening seven under 65 when the going was good as it’s going to get.

“Everybody knows the weather Friday and Saturday is going to be very difficult, so today I thought was very important to get off to a good start and try to make as many birdies as you can today because the next couple days it’s going to be very difficult,” he said.

It’s a packed leaderboard stacked up behind him.

Standing one back of him are a six-strong group consisting of home favourite Paul Lawrie, Australian shotmaker Jason Day, South African veteran Retief Goosen, Danny Willett of England and Americans Robert Streb and Zach Johnson.

But even more tellingly, among those on 67 is the man who has taken the golfing world by storm this year, 21-year-old Texan Spieth.

The world number two played alongside Johnson on Thursday for his first competitive round at St Andrews and he dealt admirably with the challenge.

In the absence of injured world number one Rory McIlroy, his clash with Johnson is the one that is making headlines as the rivalry to watch.

Spieth said of Johnson that he had been impressed by “somebody who’s splitting bunkers at about 380 yards and just two-putting for birdie on five or six of the holes when there’s only two par-5s.

“I don’t have that in the bag, so I’ve got to make up for it with ball-striking.

“I’ve played enough golf with him to where I believe in my skill set that I can still trump that crazy ability that he has.”

By the time the two Americans have teed off, players such as 2013 champion Phil Mickelson (70), England’s top hope Justin Rose (71) and last week’s Scottish Open winner Rickie Fowler (72) were hoping they would have applied some extra pressure on the leaders.

Tiger Woods, meanwhile, needs a minor-miracle to avoid missing back-to-back cuts in major tournaments for the first time in his career.

The 14-time major winner struggled to an opening 76 and there was nothing in his game to suggest that he will fare any better in the tougher weather on Friday.

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