‘The wrong decision in hindsight’

R&A chief Peter Dawson conceded that it was a mistake – in hindsight – to restart play on the third morning at St Andrews.

Players spent just half an hour on the course before gusting winds forced another suspension.

With balls being blown out of position on greens as players tried to address putts, a decision was made to call a halt to the action.

Several players expressed their dissatisfaction with the decision, including World No 2 Jordan Spieth, and while Dawson accepted their views, he says it only became clear the decision was the wrong one in hindsight.

The chief executive of the Royal and Ancient said: “It’s been a tough day for everyone. Clearly with the benefit of hindsight it would have been better if play hadn’t started, but the decision was taken based on the evidence at the time.

“I supported it fully, was an integral part of it, and I believe it was the right decision, given the facts at the time we took it.

“We spent a great deal of time out at the far end of the golf course and we did not get one ball move right up to 6.45, so we took the view that the course was playable, although difficult, and play began.

“It proved that as the wind increased that we would have been better not starting, but we did start.”

The decision was also taken to complete only the second round on Saturday, with the third round to follow on Sunday and the final round on Monday.

There is more bad weather on the way, but Dawson said there was no plan to reduce the number of holes being contested, adding that regulations even allowed for a Tuesday morning finish if necessary.

“The weather forecast for tomorrow and Monday, while there is some rain in the forecast overnight and into tomorrow morning, and there will be winds in the sort of 10-15mph bracket, there’s nothing in there to particularly worry us,” he said.

“So we’re confident – famous last words – that we will finish play on Monday and crown the champion then.”

While Spieth was upset at first, he was more diplomatic when asked about the decision later in the evening, having safely reached the clubhouse after a 72.

“Had the R&A known what was going to happen, they certainly wouldn’t have started us,” he said.

“The only thing they were able to go off was what the officials themselves saw when they were out there before we even got out to the golf course.

“They obviously were out there and balls were not moving, they were staying in position, so that means that it’s playable.

“Obviously frustration was taking over, and I wasn’t happy with the three-putt, especially when I just saw that the ball was not standing still and mine was wiggling back and forth as I was getting over the ball on a six-footer on a flat surface.

“I think it was just a tricky situation, and it was unfortunate for the R&A because I believe that there was nothing they could do differently.”