SAINT ANDREWS, United Kingdom: Dustin Johnson led the British Open at the halfway stage at St Andrews on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) on a day that saw one of the worst wind delays in the tournament’s history.
The 10 hour 28 minutes stoppage eventually forced organizers to announce that the final round would be held over until Monday for just the second time since it was first held in 1860.
Johnson was one of 39 players who played half an hour from 7 am (6 pm Saturday Manila time) in the morning before they were hauled off because their balls were being blown about by the gusting winds.
When he and the others were finally given the green light to get back into action at 6 pm, the American parred 16 and 17 before sinking a four-footer at the last for a round of 69 and the outright lead at 10 under.
He will take a one shot advantage into Sunday’s third round, with Englishman Danny Willett, who concluded his round over 24 hours earlier, solo in second.
“This morning when we started, it was almost impossible, but managed to hang in there, and then when we just went out and restarted, it was very tough, but managed to make some good pars and then birdie the last hole. So it was a good way to finish the day,” he said.
Top Scot Paul Lawrie, the 1999 Open champion, gave the home fans who had waited patiently all day something to relish when he completed a second round of 70 to stand alone in third at eight under.
Tied on seven under at the start of the day were another Scot, Marc Warren, Australian Adam Scott and Americans Robert Streb and 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson.
They were joined on that mark on Saturday evening by 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa, who had a 70, and Australian shotmaker Jason Day with a 71.
Dustin Johnson’s playing partner Jordan Spieth, on a mission to become just the second man, after Ben Hogan in 1953, to win the British Open in the same year as the Masters and US Open, took a bogey at the tough 17th Road Hole, but birdied the last to stay at five under.
“It was definitely challenging on that 16th and 17th hole, but 18 with this wind the way it was and a little heavier wind, I was able to smooth a drive out there and hit it on the middle of the green,” he said.
Tiger Woods, meanwhile, missed the cut in back-to-back majors for the first time in his career after a 75 left him well over the cut mark and near the bottom of the 156-strong field.
Also missing the cut were Bubba Watson and Ian Poulter.
The tournament, the year’s third major, had already been badly hit by a rain-storm on Friday morning that caused a delay of over three hours and Saturday’s additional long wait for the players meant that a Sunday finish became impossible to envisage.
“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 organized 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 until well into the evening.