Storm-hit Open held over to Monday

The Open Championship (AP)
The Open Championship (AP)

St Andrews - The Open Championship will finish on a Monday for just the second time in its history, organisers announced on Saturday.

The tournament has been hit by hours of weather delays - rain on Friday and high winds on Saturday - making it impossible to conclude the tournament as scheduled on Sunday.

"The intention is to complete the second round today with round three to be played on Sunday and the final round to be played on Monday," The R&A said in a statement.

The only other time there has been a Monday finish in 143 previous British Opens was in 1988 when Seve Ballesteros won the last of his three crowns at Royal Lytham.

It was a momentous decision by golf's ruling body, which has organised the Open Championship since 1860, but it became increasingly inevitable as the day wore on and the winds coming in off the North Sea refused to abate.

The remnants of second-round action had got underway early in the morning, but officials soon called another halt to proceedings as the wind picked up.

More than three hours of play was lost at the start of Friday's action when a rain-storm deluged the Old Course, and 42 players were unable to complete their rounds by the time darkness fell.

The wet weather had passed through by Saturday morning and play got underway on schedule at 07:00, but it soon became apparent that on the more exposed parts of the course, balls were moving about.

Officials called a halt at 07:32. The forecast was for the wind to be sustained during the morning but easing in the afternoon.

It had already been announced that once the cut is made, play will be in three-ball groupings for the third round in an effort to get the tournament back on schedule.

"We spent an hour at the far end of the course, before play started, assessing whether the course was playable," a statement from the R&A said.

"Balls were not moving on the greens and while the conditions were extremely difficult, we considered the golf course to be playable.

"Gusts of wind increased in speed by 10-15 percent after play resumed. This could not be foreseen at the time that play was restarted and made a material difference to the playability of the golf course.

Subsequent announcements at 10:00 and an hour later reported that there had been "no reduction in the strength of the wind."

It was then announced that, going by forecasts, no play would be possible until at least 15:00 and this has now been put back by a further hour, sparking the Monday finish announcement.

In the short time that play was possible, leader Dustin Johnson fluffed his chip to the 15th green and dropped a shot to slip back to nine under.

Playing partner Jordan Spieth stayed at five under as he continued his quest for a third straight major title after his wins at the Masters and the US Open.

"We should never have started," Jordan Spieth was heard muttering as he was informed of the decision by a R&A official.

There were complaints also from other players over the decision to even start play with the wind so punishing.

The clubhouse leader was England's former world amateur number one Danny Willett, who fired a 69 on Friday to stand at nine under 135.

Willett, a 27-year-old from Sheffield who is aiming to become England's first Open champion in 23 years, has steadily risen to 39th in the world this year.

Two strokes further back were a quartet consisting of former world number one Adam Scott (67), fellow Australian Robert Streb (71), 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson (71) and top Scot Marc Warren (69).

Still out on the course, Scot Paul Lawrie was at eight under after 13 holes and 2010 champion at St Andrews Louis Oosthuizen at seven under after 12.

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