The Scots say “nae rain, nae wind, nae golf.” Well there was nae rain, plenty of wind, but there was nae golf, at least for those in contention.
The Old Course of St. Andrews won the third round of the $2.75 million Ricoh Women’s British Open. Hands down. Had this been a boxing match, a towel would have landed on the first fairway faster than you could have said “Old Tom Morris.”
With winds regularly gusting above 40 mph, with one blast measured at more than 50 mph, play was suspended at 12:31pm local time with the last nine groups still to tee off. Leaders Na Yeon Choi and Miki Saiki were an hour and nine minutes away from their 1:40 p.m. tee time when play was halted.
After five hours and 34 minutes, play was finally suspended for the day at 6:03 p.m. Play will begin at 6:15 a.m. local time Sunday. The fourth round is expected to start at 8 a.m., with the leaders due to go off at 1:40 p.m.
There will be no redraw after completion of the third round; players will remain in the same groups regardless of their scores.
“There’s no doubt it was tough conditions,” said Susan Simpson, the Ladies Golf Union’s director of golf operations. “We had quite a few calls of balls oscillating. Once we started getting calls of balls moving, we took action.”
Simpson said there were “five calls of balls moving on greens in the space of a few minutes at five, nine and 10 greens.”
Korea’s Inbee Park was one of those five calls. Her ball moved on the fourth green, her final hole of a short day.
The LGU had already prepared for the strong winds by not cutting the greens as close as the previous day. “The 11th green wasn’t cut,” she said. “The greens were 9.4 on the stimpmeter as opposed to 10 the day before. They were really quite sticky.”
The weather forecast for tomorrow calls for strong winds again, although not quite as strong as today. If the wind gets up and play is affected, then a Monday finish is an option.
Only nine players finished their third rounds. Those nine players were 56 over par. Rikako Morita was the worst of that bunch with a score of 86, 14 over. Cristie Kerr and amateur Lydia Ko had matching 3-over 75s.
Kerr and Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist were the only two players to break par for the front nine, which played into the wind. Nordqvist played that stretch in 2-under 34, while Kerr went out in 35.
The 29 players who had already played the front nine were collectively 76 over par.
The suspension has not helped Park’s chances of completing the Grand Slam. Park was 1 under par for four holes, with a birdie at the third hole to move to 3 under for the tournament – seven shots behind the lead.
Park’s best shot at winning this major was to get out early and post a score in fairly calm conditions, and then hope the wind would pick up later to bring the leaders back to her.
Her chances of pulling off the slam now rest on a fantastic final 32 holes. It’s a tall order, but it can be done.
Wind and weather permitting of course.