FARMINGDALE, N.Y. - The USGA scrambled today to accommodate fans who bought Thursday tickets for the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black only to see rain halt play after only three hours and 16 minutes.
On Thursday, the USGA said fans holding Thursday tickets were simply out of luck. Rand Jerris, the USGA director of communications, went a step further, saying to reporters: "Yes, people can throw them out."
That policy, however, proved massively unpopular with outspoken New York sports fans, whose uproar did not fall on deaf ears. On Friday morning the USGA reversed course, announcing that fans with Thursday tickets would be admitted to the course Monday, should that day be necessary to complete 72 holes, or even for a playoff. (Monday playoffs are usually attended only by weeklong ticket holders, an estimated 25,000 of which showed up for the Tiger Woods/Rocco Mediate playoff at Torrey Pines last year.)
On Friday afternoon, the USGA went a step further, offering 50-percent refunds for Thursday tickets if the tournament ends on Sunday and there is no Monday golf. In a statement, the USGA also spelled out its policy for the weekend.
"We want to be clear about the ticket policy for Saturday and Sunday," the statement read. "If 90 minutes or more of golf are played on Saturday or Sunday, daily tickets for that day will not be refunded or exchanged. If less than 90 minutes of golf are played on either Saturday or Sunday, ticket holders for that day will be welcomed onto the course for subsequent golf."
What about the people who followed Jerris's directions and threw away their tickets? He said they can still be accommodated.
"Those people who no longer have their tickets can go to will call, where we have records of ticket buyers," Jerris said shortly before noon Friday. "We have 20,000 e-mail addresses of ticket buyers, we have credit card receipts. There are a number of ways to identify our ticket buyers if they threw away their tickets."