British Open: Play suspended as rain soaks St Andrews

Torrential rain forced a lengthy suspension of play in the second round of the British Open at St Andrews on Friday.

AFP| Last Updated: Jul 17, 2015, 14:14 PM IST
British Open: Play suspended as rain soaks St Andrews

St Andrews, Scotland: Torrential rain forced a lengthy suspension of play in the second round of the British Open at St Andrews on Friday.

The bad weather sweeping in off the North Sea had been widely forecast and it arrived on time just as the first players were set to march out for round two.

By 8:00 p.m. (0700GMT) large puddles had formed on the Old Course`s fairways and greens as the deluge continued and director of greenkeeping Gordon Moir said that no time could yet be set for play to resume.

"We are going to have as many people out there as possible with squeegies and pumps," he told the BBC, adding that a break in the weather was expected later in the morning.

"It`s a litle bit disappointing as the course has been in such good condition in the last few weeks."

Leader Dustin Johnson, history-maker Jordan Spieth and a desperate Tiger Woods were among those anxiously looking up at the skies to have an idea of whether they would be able to complete their second round by day`s end. All had afternoon tee-times.

Birdies were aplenty during Thursday`s opening chapter at the Home of Golf, but conditions gradually worsened during the day.

Johnson for one, seeking his first major title, was happy that he produced his opening seven under 65 when the going was good as it`s going to get.

"Everybody knows the weather Friday and Saturday is going to be very difficult, so today I thought was very important to get off to a good start and try to make as many birdies as you can today because the next couple days it`s going to be very difficult," he said.

It`s a packed leaderboard stacked up behind him.

Standing one back of him are a six-strong group consisting of home favourite Paul Lawrie, Australian shotmaker Jason Day, South African veteran Retief Goosen, Danny Willett of England and Americans Robert Streb and Zach Johnson.

But even more tellingly, among those on 67 is the man who has taken the golfing world by storm this year, 21-year-old Texan Jordan Spieth.

The world number two played alongside Johnson on Thursday for his first competitive round at St Andrews and he dealt admirably with the challenge.

In the absence of injured world number one Rory McIlroy, his clash with Johnson is the one that is making headlines as the rivalry to watch.

Spieth said of Johnson that he had been impressed by "somebody who`s splitting bunkers at about 380 yards and just two-putting for birdie on five or six of the holes when there`s only two par-5s.

"I don`t have that in the bag, so I`ve got to make up for it with ball-striking.

"I`ve played enough golf with him to where I believe in my skill set that I can still trump that crazy ability that he has."

By the time the two Americans have teed off, players such as 2013 champion Phil Mickelson (70), England`s top hope Justin Rose (71) and last week`s Scottish Open winner Rickie Fowler (72) were hoping they have applied some extra pressure on the leaders.

Tiger Woods, meanwhile, needs a minor-miracle to avoid missing back-to-back cuts in major tournaments for the first time in his career.

The 14-time major winner struggled to an opening 76 and there was nothing in his game to suggest that he will fare any better in the tougher weather on Friday.