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The Open's Toughest Weather


St Andrews 2015

Louis Oosthuizen and Tiger Woods face the fierce winds at St Andrews in 2015

The last time The Open took place at St Andrews, there was certainly no shortage of drama.

A week that began with Jordan Spieth pursuing an unprecedented calendar year Grand Slam ended with the young Texan missing out by a single shot on a three-way play-off that was won by Zach Johnson.

Other highlights at the Old Course included a stunning performance from amateur Paul Dunne, who sensationally held a share of the lead with 18 holes to play, and emotional farewells to two Open legends in Tom Watson and Sir Nick Faldo.

Yet in the middle of this fantastic sporting spectacle, there was also one day that brought little other than immense frustration for players, fans and everybody connected with the Championship.

On Saturday 18 July 2015, strong winds wreaked havoc at The 144th Open.

There had already been a delay to play on Friday, when heavy rain briefly flooded parts of the course and forced a suspension of just over three hours.

As a result, Championship leader Dustin Johnson was among a host of players who headed out at 7am the next day with a handful of second-round holes to complete.

But remarkably, Johnson would not manage that task until just after 7pm. A day that was meant to feature more golf than originally scheduled ended up featuring hardly any action at all.

Wind speeds were high when the sun came up over the Old Course, a venue naturally exposed to the elements. Recognising the potential for problems, R&A officials spent an hour at the far end of the course before play started and considered it to be playable, with balls crucially holding still on the greens.

A decision was taken to start at 7am as originally scheduled, with R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson stating: “It was playable and one has to start play if the course is playable. It would have been unfair to the rest of the field, in those circumstances, not to start, so we chose to start.”

Unfortunately, that decision was swiftly followed by a further increase in the strength of the gusts. When play did get under way, it soon became apparent that several players were having issues with balls moving on greens. After just 32 minutes, the Championship was once again suspended.

“The wind increased,” explained Dawson. “Had the wind been as strong at quarter to seven as it was at quarter past, we wouldn’t have started.”

As one of the players who was forced to contend with the morning gusts, Spieth was initially frustrated, but he later acknowledged there was little that could have been done to prevent the difficulties he and several others endured.

Jordan Spieth lines up a putt at St Andrews in 2015

“I think it was just a tricky situation,” said Spieth. “And it was unfortunate for The R&A because I believe that there was nothing they could do differently.”

Spieth was at least able to avoid dropping any shots on the two holes he played in the morning. On the par-5 14th, playing partner Dustin Johnson saw a chip end up further away from the hole than it had started, in bizarre circumstances.

“I remember hitting a chip shot. I actually hit a pretty good chip but the wind was blowing so hard it actually pushed it down and it caught the top of the ridge,” explained Johnson.

“I went to mark it. I literally got, I don’t know, an inch from putting my coin down and the wind blew my ball and blew it all the way down off the green. I ended up making bogey when I was right in front of the green in two.”

Louis Oosthuizen, the Champion on The Open’s previous visit to St Andrews, experienced a similar – albeit less dramatic – issue at the 13th, as what looked set to be a three-foot putt for par turned into an eight-footer due to his ball moving before it could be marked.

If that was not strange enough, Oosthuizen then had to wait more than 10 hours before he could attempt to convert from eight feet, with the suspension in play ultimately stretching until 6pm as the winds refused to relent.

To his immense credit, the South African saved his par and left the green smiling, while Johnson retained the lead of the Championship when the time finally came for him to complete his second round.

Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth on day three of The 144th Open at St Andrews

Yet the lengthy delay understandably led to the third and fourth rounds each being pushed back a day. For only the second time in The Open’s illustrious history, the Championship would finish on a Monday.

After finally completing his 36th hole on Saturday evening, Johnson perhaps summed up a confusing 24 hours best of all.

“I don’t even know what day it is,” said the American. “But I came out tonight and finished strong.”

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