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Page last updated at 18:16 GMT, Friday, 16 July 2010 19:16 UK

Turbulent times at windswept St Andrews

The Open Championship, St Andrews, 15-18 July
Coverage: Live on BBC TV, Red Button, BBC Sport website, with updates on BBC Radio Scotland and Radio 5 live Full coverage details

The Open at St Andrews
The St Andrews weather manufactured difficult conditions for players at the Open

By Thomas McGuigan
BBC Sport Scotland at St Andrews

Suspending play at the 150th anniversary Open championship puts the wind up everyone: players, spectators and match officials alike.

On Friday afternoon at about 1445 BST, the wind at St Andrews became so strong that golf balls were moving at players' feet.

This was enough for the Royal and Ancient to suspend play for an hour and five minutes.

"Roughly speaking, holes one to seven, nine and 12 to 18 are all quite playable," the R&A's director of championships David Hill told BBC Scotland.

"It's only the very far end of the course, known as 'The Loop' at St Andrews; the wind just picks up there," Hill explained.

"Right out at the Loop, where it's very exposed to the North Sea, the wind is five to ten miles stronger than elsewhere on the course."

This is proving to be a fascinating championship. And, with two days to go, anything can happen

David Hill
R&A director of championships

So how many people are involved in the decision to suspend play?

"Essentially, it's taken by the chairman of the championship committee, Michael Brown, in consultation with our head referee David Rickman.

"David will take advice from his colleague Grant Moir, who is out on the course at the key area: the 11th green.

"Grant has a wind speed gauge and he consults with the referee. At about 2.45pm the ball was oscillating to the extent that the players couldn't putt.

"An hour later, the wind had dropped a little bit and we could resume play; simple as that.

"Today we've had everything: rain, sunshine and now high winds. This is the fascinating aspect of links golf in Scotland and St Andrews in particular.

"People think it's an easy course; Rory McIlroy went round in 63 yesterday, yet a 74 or 75 could be a very good score today."

While spectators had to hold onto their golf umbrellas for dear life, and players and caddies sheltered in the rough as the wind cut a swathe through the Old Course, tournament organisers were determined not to be knocked off their stride.

John Daly
John Daly at the Road Hole 17th

"Ninety percent of spectators have played golf at some stage and they'll understand that golf in the British isles is never predictable," Hill said.

The 55-year-old from Portrush said it was unlikely that all the players would compete their second rounds on Friday.

"From a players' point of view, they're professionals and they play in any weather," he said.

"It's not been unusual but it's certainly been a mixed bag.

"The eventual champion will have to have the mental ability to adjust to the testing conditions. It's not like playing an inland course. Concentration levels are key."

Hill said he was particularly proud of the layout of the course and the changes to the infamous Road Hole - where Sandy Lyle dropped four shots over two days.

So what does Hill hope for the closing two days of the 2010 Open?

"Great championships are always difficult to define," he added. "The jewel in the sun at Turnberry in 1977 and Seve punching the air in 1984 were the two great Open championships.

"But, sitting here today, I'd say this is proving to be a fascinating championship. And, with two days to go, anything can happen."

Scot Paul Lawrie, whose second-round 82 saw him slip to seven under and miss the cut, described the conditions on day two as "brutal".

"It was a tough day and I can't ever remember an Open - apart from the third round at Muirfield in 2002 - which was worse," he said.

"I thought it was unplayable three or four holes before they stopped it but I'm not the guy who makes the decision.

"We were on the seventh green and you couldn't stop the ball there.

"The first couple of holes after the restart were better but the last four or five were pretty much the same.

"Yesterday I don't think I could have had it any easier and today I couldn't have had it any tougher - it was brutal."

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see also
McIlroy deflated after Open slump
16 Jul 10 |  Golf
Woods remains in Open contention
16 Jul 10 |  Golf
Woods bids for St Andrews treble
14 Jul 10 |  Golf
Poor weather hits Champions event
14 Jul 10 |  Golf
Veteran Watson relishes Open tilt
14 Jul 10 |  Golf
Cink eager to retain Claret Jug
14 Jul 10 |  Golf
Golf on the BBC
01 Jul 11 |  Golf

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