Friday play at Ricoh Women's British Open cancelled by disruptive winds

Cristie Kerr at the Ricoh Women's British Open
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After being knocked off her feet, Cristie Kerr decided to hunker down for a bit at Royal Liverpool.
By
PGA.com news services

Series: LPGA Tour

Published: Friday, September 14, 2012 | 1:29 p.m.

HOYLAKE, England -- Play was called off for the day at the Ricoh Women's British Open on Friday because of strong wind that disrupted the second round so badly that organizers declared early scores ''null and void.''
 
With wind gusting up to 60 mph, players struggled to keep the ball on the tees and greens before the round was suspended after an hour of play in the morning. A few hours later, it was cancelled for the day. Organizers had hoped to restart in mid-afternoon but decided to cancel when conditions didn't improve.

''It would have been unfair to those competitors not to declare play null and void and cancel all scores for the round in question,'' Ladies Golf Union Tournament Director Susan Simpson said in a statement.

The second round is scheduled to start early Saturday, with conditions forecast to be more playable. Organizers said the cut will be reduced from 65 plus ties to 50 plus ties, including amateurs. Rounds 3 and 4 will be played on Sunday with a two-tee start and no redraw after Round 3.

With weather for Monday predicted to be similar to Friday, officials hope the tournament will not extend to a fifth day.

Michelle Wie, one of the tallest players on the tour, saw a lighter side.

''I think it's one day that's really good to be short, because I felt like a flagpole out there,'' she said.

The tournament descended into near-farce when players found themselves battling with conditions that former winner Karen Stupples described as "laughable."

Stupples, England's last winner of the title in 2004, was among 48 players who teed off. She actually birdied the downwind second -- "it felt like an eagle," she said -- but it came either side of a double bogey and she was by no means the worst.

Compatriot Felicity Johnson, tied for the lead early in the first round, dropped to next-to-last on 14 over par when she ran up a quintuple-bogey 9 at the first, bogeyed the second and double-bogeyed the third.

Her German playing partner Caroline Masson double-bogeyed all three holes, and the 18 players who completed at least one hole on the front nine were a cumulative 52 over par when the suspension came.

Things were not as bad scoring-wise for those on the back nine, but Michelle Wie described seeing fellow American Cristie Kerr knocked off her feet by the wind and said the same almost happened to her on the exposed 12th tee.

Kerr had trouble getting her ball to stay on the tee there and, on reaching the green, playing partner Erina Hara had a two-foot putt blown eight feet past the hole.

The only sensible course of action at that point was not only to bring the players in, but also delete the scores as if they never happened.

"The competitors began their round in extremely adverse weather and conditions subsequently worsened despite our belief that they would remain stable," said Simpson. "It would have been unfair to those competitors not to declare play null and void and cancel all scores for the round in question."

There were, inevitably, complaints that play should have been called off sooner, but Simpson said the level of anger was only about "five or six" on the Richter scale. It would have been a lot higher, of course, if the worst sufferers had been told the holes played counted.

The forecast is for the wind speed to drop overnight, with rain a possibility for Sunday.

Officials went into discussions about whether there would be enough daylight for the final 36 holes to be played then, although much depends on how many players survive the halfway cut Saturday night.

If not, then the event will spill into Monday.

Norway's Suzann Pettersen, who played with Kerr and Hara, said on Twitter: "The sport we played this morning had nothing to do with golf. Right decision is made now."