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British Open 2015: Tournament officials back decision to send players on to windy St Andrews despite backlash

Woods backs Day to win British Open

The R&A, the body that organises the British Open, has defended the decision to resume tournament in windy conditions on Saturday despite the frustrations of several high profile players.

A rain delay on Friday forced 42 players to finish their second round on Saturday, however it lasted just 32 minutes before play was suspended due to the heavy winds at St Andrews, with gusts of up to 65 km per hour. “@ryanspoon: Wonder why British Open is suspended?? Louis Oosthuizen and Tiger show why via @ESPN App http://t.co/tIoXDdKbN1”— Shannon Thibodeau (@SEThibodeau) July 18, 2015

After a 10 and a half hour delay, the players – including Australian Jason Day – finally returned to the course, but plenty of damage had already been inflicted on the scores of some of the tournament favourites, including Jordan Spieth.

But despite the criticism from some players for being allowed to resume on Saturday morning, Dawson was adamant the right decision was made at the time.

“Well, clearly with the benefit of hindsight, it would have been better if play hadn’t started, but the decision was taken based on the evidence at the time,” R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said.

“I supported it fully, was an integral part of it, and I believe it was the right decision given the facts at the time we took it.

“When you’re out at the far end of the course and balls are not moving on the 11th green, although it’s a tough day with a big wind, it’s the right decision to play. It proved that as the wind increased that we would have been better not starting, but we did start.”

Due to the delays that have occurred over the first three days of The Open, the tournament has been pushed back to a Monday finish, with the third and fourth rounds to be played on Sunday and Monday respectively.

It will be the first Monday finish since the late Seve Ballesteros won the coveted Claret Jug at Royal Lytham in 1988.

Despite gale force gusts blowing balls around on the greens and making putting near impossible, play carried on for more than half an hour, during which Johnson lost his outright lead and Day dropped two shots.

When finally pulled off the course, Spieth and Johnson both questioned officials as to why they were sent out in the first place.

Louis Oosthuizen, champion at St Andrews in 2010, laughed at his rules official when initially told to play on as his ball first rolled closer within a foot of the hole before he could mark it, and then blew eight feet away.

American Brooks Koepka actually refused to play on, a stand Day said he would have taken had he knew.

“Yeah, if I knew that Brooks Koepka wasn’t playing, then I wouldn’t have played, but I just had to go on because we just – the day before I tried to call it on 12 tee, and they’re like ‘no, you’ve got to keep going, keep going’. By then I understood that they were trying to get Tom [Watson] to finish, so I’m okay with that.

“But you know, it was just a little unfortunate with how strong the wind was. I mean, hindsight now looking back on it, it’s easy to say, ‘oh, we shouldn’t have gone’. But R&A, and I understand what they’re trying to do, to try to get a 72-hole event in, try and get this done and finished, but you just … it’s unfortunate when you can’t have tough conditions but they’re unplayable, you know.”

Spieth said play should have been suspended earlier than it was.

“I don’t believe that had the R&A known what was going to happen, they certainly wouldn’t have started us,” Spieth said.

“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. They obviously were out there and balls were not moving, they were staying in position, so that means that 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. I wish that — after you see a shot like Dustin’s, which was the first shot that we saw, and after what I heard happened on the 11th green and what happened with Louis on 13, you know, I think it immediately should have been called there.”

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