The Barclays Scottish Open was reduced to a three-round event after torrential rain overnight and throughout Saturday flooded the Castle Stuart links course at Inverness, wiping out the entire third day’s play.
Organizers worked to restore Castle Stuart to a playable condition following heavy downpours in the Highlands and the unfinished second-round groupings -- which amounted to half the field -- took their positions out on the course late Saturday.
2011 BARCLAYS SCOTTISH OPEN
The Scottish Open is being played on the links-style layout at Castle Stuart near Inverness for the first time this week.
As players were about to restart their rounds more than 24 hours after their last shot, officials decided conditions were still too poor to resume.
“We tried very hard, we were desperate to get out and play … but unfortunately, despite all the efforts of all the guys on the golf course, we just couldn’t get the course playable,” Tournament Director Mike Stewart said.
With no shot being hit on Day 3, the leaderboard was unchanged, leaving 2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell in a three-way share of the lead at 11 under with Scotland’s Peter Whiteford and Scott Jamieson. All three players finished their second rounds in dry, still conditions early on Friday.
“I’ve been up in this area for a long time now and we have courtesy-car drivers who are 65 years of age and haven’t seen the likes of this before. None of us have,” former Europe Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie, one of 70 players still to wrap up their second round, said of the conditions. “This is extreme to say the least. It’s incredible. It’s freak conditions.”
Players will be back out early Sunday to complete their second rounds, with the third and final round to follow, although more rain is expected in the Highlands.
There is the possibility of the tournament spilling over into Monday -- but only to conclude a round, not to start one. The British Open, which is the third major of the year, starts on Thursday at Royal St. George’s in southeast England.
First-round leaders Lee Westwood of England and Mark Tullo of Chile, as well as top-ranked Luke Donald, were still to complete their second rounds. All three were at 7 under when play was stopped early Friday following the second of two stoppages because of thunderstorms and heavy rain.
“It’s a shame for everybody. I’m sure Mike’s doing the best he can but unfortunately he’s not in control of what comes out of the sky,” Westwood said.
Spain’s Jose Manuel Lara was one shot adrift of the trio of leaders, with three players -- Argentina’s Angel Cabrera, Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts and Scotland’s Paul Lawrie -- at 9 under.
This was the last thing Montgomerie wanted as he tries for the top-five finish he needs to extend his record of playing in every Open since 1989.
"They are having a big, big laugh -- I would be if I was one of them," he said of the golfing gods. "I needed 72 (holes) and now I know there's no Monday qualifier for the Open, we should be playing (here) Monday."
However, Stewart stated: "We realized we were going to struggle with the weather today and the forecast is also poor for tomorrow. We just thought it was in the best interests of everyone concerned to reduce it to 54 holes."
As he spoke, the greenkeeping staff remained hard at work trying to make the course playable and the conditions for spectators safe.
Two fans suffered broken legs on Friday and, because of a landslide during one of the overnight storms, it was decided not to allow the crowd to watch on five of the holes down by the Moray Firth.
With possible start times being pushed back almost hourly from 2:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., eight players had seen enough, deciding to retire from the event with little or no hope of surviving the cut in any case.
The second round will now resume -- weather permitting -- at 7:00 a.m., followed by the third and now final round.