Gale forces winds across the north and east of Scotland have forced the abandonment of Saturday’s planned third round in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
European Tour Tournament Director David Garland was left with little option as severe gusts – some reaching over 50 miles per hour, made playing conditions impossible at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns with balls moving on several putting surfaces.
Saturday’s third round will now take place on Sunday October 4 – with all players at the same venues in their original start times – with the final round, featuring the top 60 professionals and those tied for 60th place alongside the top 20 amateur teams, taking place on the Old Course in St Andrews on Monday October 5
“The forecast that we have from every source is for the winds to strengthen during the day, certainly between 11am and 3pm although they will start to taper off into the evening so we have had to abandon the possibility of any play today,” said Garland.
“We are very confident that, although it will be very breezy tomorrow and Monday, that we should be able to finish on time on Monday afternoon.
“Every course was unplayable. Here at St Andrews the exposed holes such as six and seven and 11 and 12 out in the Eden Estuary had problems; at Kingbarns the exposed greens were the fourth and the ninth; while at Carnoustie the fifth green was unplayable.
“We monitored the situation from 7am this morning right up until we made the decision at 9.30am but in all that time, when we had any gusts, the balls were moving on all the putting surfaces we were watching which rendered the course unplayable.
“Theoretically we could have played the tournament over three rounds but we took the decision that this is such a prestigious tournament, with a prize fund of US$5 million, that we wanted to go into Monday. Our stated goal is to play every tournament over 72 holes and going into Monday is a possibility when you begin any golf tournament.”
The decision was met with universal praise by the competitors in this, the ninth Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, including by two of the three players in a share of the lead at the halfway stage, Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and Richie Ramsay of Scotland.
McIlroy said: “You can’t argue with the decision. I think everyone can see that, especially here at Kingsbarns. I am just looking at the ninth hole just now and with the way that wind is blowing you wouldn’t be able to get your ball near that green in three shots, never mind trying to putt on it.
“I think the forecast for the next two days is pretty good so if we have to wait till Monday to finish then we have to wait.”
Ramsay said: “I think the right decision has been made. You look at some of the exposed greens on these courses and the balls are just blowing off in all directions so you couldn’t play in that wind. I am struggling to keep my balance standing here at the moment.
“Plus if you put everyone out there and had to bring them on and off the course throughout the day it would be pretty tough to co-ordinate that with three courses.”
Tournament organisers also confirmed that spectators would be given free entry for both the final day’s play on Sunday October 5 and Monday October 6.