Sandy Lyle didn’t make any friends at the Royal and Ancient when he quit
playing Thursday morning after just nine holes in cold and rainy conditions. The
1985 British Open champion, who claimed his fingers “went a little numb” when
he withdrew at 11-over, got no sympathy from R&A boss Peter Dawson.
“It’s very disappointing and you have to say he was having a bad day,” Dawson said. “I have to
say professional golfers should complete the round. You wonder what they would
think if the recorder went home early and you couldn’t hand your scorecard in.
Maybe he was having a bad day.”
Dawson largely defended the course setup, which was challenged by some players
who said they couldn’t reach the fairway during the windy morning rounds. If the current weekend forecast is correct, those
players haven’t seen anything yet.
“[The forecast is for] big, big wind Saturday,” Dawson said. “It would be nice to have
another tee at 11 (the 436-yard par 4 where you need a 230-yard drive to reach
the fairway), maybe 20 yards in front of the one we’ve got. But if the wind is
going to be colossal, we wonder if we can play at all.”
The current weather system is constantly changing, Dawson said, but if the winds reach 40 mph on Saturday, the R&A might suspend play.
“It wouldn’t be a safety issue in terms of spectators, but a matter of
judging if the balls are staying still on the greens,” Dawson said. “That’s the only thing of
concern. The most exposed green is 11.”
He added that if the wind was really bad Saturday, the R&A would
consider moving the tee box to the members’ tee, which is about 50 yards forward.