The R&A has announced that the third round of The Open Championship will be played with a two tee start due to forecast thunderstorms tomorrow (July 19).
The decision was made in an effort to minimise the effect of disruptive weather that is expected to arrive in the early hours of the morning and continue for several hours.
Play will also commence in three-balls. The revised format is expected to save around three and a half hours of playing time.
David Rickman, The R&A’s Executive Director of Rules and Equipment Standards, said: “On a beautiful evening such as we have today, it is hard to believe the disruptive forecast that we have received for tomorrow. The Met Office’s on-site forecasters believe that there is to be a significant risk of thunderstorms and heavy rain, which will interrupt tomorrow’s play. This is consistent with the Amber weather warning that has been issued for much of England and Wales. Therefore, we have taken a number of decisions regarding tomorrow’s play to maximise the chances of completing the Championship on time.
“Play is scheduled now to commence at 9am. Play will be in groups of three, and we will utilise a two-tee start using the 1st and 10th tees. These measures combined give us the potential to accommodate up to five hours of delays and still complete the third round tomorrow evening. If we are delayed tomorrow morning beyond 9am, we will start as early as we can thereafter. We are now working with all those involved in staging this Championship to make the necessary arrangements to facilitate this revised plan.”
Rickman added: “The forecast I have seen predicts that the bad weather will be arriving very early in the morning, possibly as early as 2am. It is forecast potentially to last through much of the morning with a four-hour window of much improved conditions in early afternoon, with the possibility of further thunderstorm activity coming in late tomorrow evening.”