A big rain, a flooded course; Irish amateur Dunne in hunt
Jul. 17, 2015
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) — Steve Williams was on the Old Course early Friday to check the pin positions for the second round. On his way back in, the caddie for Adam Scott wasn't sure there would even be a second round.
"I watched the second hole flood in seven minutes," Williams said.
The rain was so heavy that the first and 18th fairways were filled with large puddles. Sand bags were placed along streets along St. Andrews to avoid flooding.
Imagine the plight of Jaco Van Zyl, Mark Calcavecchia and Marcel Siem. They were first off Friday morning and had to play the first hole before the R&A suspended play for more than three hours.
"Good thing is we had a down breeze," Van Zyl said. "Otherwise, we would still be out there. Very interesting this morning."
Some players headed back to the Old Course Hotel and waited in their rooms. Van Zyl had some coffee, looked out the window and workers trying to drain the course and said, "Grateful you're not out there playing golf."
It reminded Padraig Harrington of that Saturday at Muirfield in 2002. Play was not interrupted that day, and 10 players — Tiger Woods included — shot in the 80s.
"Unfortunately, the town of St. Andrews drained onto the first fairway," Harrington said. "So they really couldn't go."
Still to be determined is how the third round will play out. The 42 players who didn't finish were to return at 7 a.m. Saturday. The cut was likely to be even par, and the R&A said the third round would be threesomes.
The forecast Saturday was for gusts up to 40 mph until the wind begins to ease slightly in the late afternoon.
AMATEUR HOUR: Paul Dunne was worried more about making his numbers than the cut. The approach paid off when the Irish amateur ended up in an improbable spot on the leaderboard of the British Open.
The 22-year-old who followed in the footsteps of countryman Graeme McDowell by attending the University of Alabama, Birmingham, seized the opportunities when they came on his way to a second straight 69 that left him just four shots off the lead.
"I wasn't thinking about cuts or finishes or anything, I just tried to go out and put a number in my head and play," Dunne said. "Because once you start thinking about making the cut, it's very easy to drop shots, because you have them to play with if you are a few shots inside. So I knew what scores I wanted to make on every hole, and that's just kind of how I tried to go about it."
The fifth-place finisher at the NCAA tournament had his college coach, Alan Murray, on the bag and family and friends in the gallery at the Old Course. He did just a bit of scoreboard watching, but was more concerned about getting his name on it than seeing who was leading.
"I had about a 20-footer for birdie on 15 and there's a scoreboard there and I knew if I made that I'd get on the first page of the leaderboard," Dunne said. "It didn't make me nervous, it just kind of made me excited."
Dunne would give a shot back on the next hole, but a birdie on 18 made sure he would have a later tee time on Saturday. The wind is expected to blow hard on the weekend, and Dunne is eager to see how he will respond.
"It'll be a new experience, but I'm not 100 percent sure how I'll handle it," he said. "Hopefully I'll just take it like second nature, but you never know."
Dunne is expected to be a member of the British Walker Cup team later this summer, and said he will turn pro after that on the European Tour.
BOWDITCH BOGEY: Steven Bowditch picked up a shot on the Road Hole even though he made a bogey.
The Australian was addressing a short putt for bogey on No. 17 when the ball moved slightly. Bowditch backed away, flung his putter to the ground and looked away in despair, thinking he would get a penalty shot.
A rules official corrected him.
"Basically I forgot they changed the rule that ... if the ball moves while you're putter is down and it's not caused by you, basically caused by the wind, it's not a penalty," Bowditch said. "I went from making a pretty soft 5 to a really mad 6 to a felt-like-a-birdie 5 again."
JIMMY'S THRILL: The scorecard will show Jimmy Walker with a 68 that put him at 4-under 140. The card shows a birdie on the 12th hole.
The number doesn't show the thrill he got out of that birdie.
The 12th hole was playing 343 into a hurting wind. Walker chose 5-iron off the tee because he feared a drive would come too close to the bunkers. From there, he faced another 5-iron he had to thread through the bunkers. The yardage was irrelevant. It was the epitome of links golf.
The shot came off perfectly, splitting the bunkers, down a swale and up the slope onto the green about 10 feet away. Walker turned to caddie Andy Sanders with a big smile and said, "That was cool."
"It was the only shot I could play to get it close. You just see it, and it was exactly how I pictured it," he said. "That's that links golf brings out of you. It takes imagination and wherewithal."
ROAD HOLE REDEMPTION: The 17th hole yielded no birdies and played to an average score of just over 4.8 in the opening round. That wasn't surprising. It played 502 yards into the wind with the pin behind the famous Road Hole bunker.
The hole was 483 yards on Friday, and the pin was more to the right side of the green. Five players already have made birdie, starting with Jaco Van Zyl and including Nick Faldo, which enabled him to break par.
MICKELSON'S MOMENT: Phil Mickelson was moving up the leaderboard with three birdies through 10 holes to get within four shots of the lead. And just like that, Lefty went in the wrong direction. He took two shots to get out of a pot bunker and made double bogey on the 11th hole. He dropped two more shots on the back nine, the hardest stretch on the golf course.
But the real damage came on the 18th. It was straight downwind, a birdie chance for most. He missed a 3-foot par putt and shot 72, which puts him at least seven shots behind going into the weekend.