Old Course Play Suspended Due To Wind...

And greens too fast for their contours. Again. This happened at the 2010 Open Championship and now at the 2013 Ricoh Women's British Open.

The irony? Greens are sped up to offset modern driving distances and to prevent low scoring, yet whenever we've seen modern elite players on slow greens they don't make many putts.

The official announcement:

Third round play was suspended at 12.33pm on Saturday due to high winds gusting at 38 miles per hour.

Balls were moving on the greens, with the 10th green particularly affected.

Play has been suspended until at least 4.30pm and tournament officials will make a further announcement at 4pm local time.

Third Open Championship Question: Could The R&A Get More Out Of The Old Course?

Okay the Open coverage will be winding down, but another question that's been on my mind involves the topic of course setup.

In my piece for Golf World summing up the Old Course's week, I get into the unnecessary rough throughout the course that eliminates key areas needed to attack certain hole locations. It appears to be a product of three things:

-Someone intentionally narrowing the place down

-Overall overwatering, leading to overspray unintentionally hitting native roughs

-Subtle mowing pattern changes over time

Because of space considerations, I also just mention but not detail the combination of some really edgy hole locations with redundancy of placements over the four days on some holes. The R&A theory on keeping holes bunched in small areas is due to the double greens and the desire to keep players moving. However, even with this situation carried out as planned, players still wait for their peers on the neighboring green.

The 7th (left) and (11th). Imagine swapping the hole locations one day to give players a fresh look? (Click to enlarge)So with that in mind, I'm wondering if the R&A is really getting the most out of the Old Course with their setup? This year things were not helped by a consistent wind direction over four days, but why not throw so major twists into the setup? Say, play the seventh hole to the eleventh green area and move eleven down nearer the seventh (this would require moving the scoreboard).

Or perhaps play the second hole to the sixteenth green one day and the sixteenth to the second? In other words, maximize the looks that players get over four days? After all, if there's any place you should be doing varied day-to-day setup, isn't the Old Course the one?

I did see one stellar mixing up move, when the 5th was played up front all three days, usually 12 to 15 paces from the front. Sunday, the hole was cut 85 paces deep into the green!

So should the R&A do more of that or would players and media howl when they fail to use the "traditional" hole locations?

Gigapan And Time Elapse-Video Of The Home Hole

Darren Carroll's Gigapan shot of the Home hole is up and while it's spectacular, I can't help but wonder how fun it would be to put one of these cameras up on a crane and shoot down on the Old Course's key holes so that we could zoom in and study the features.

Golf.com offers an alternative in the form of time-elapsed video. As great as it is, I think it'd be more fun to have one of these in the media lunch room to watch us scribes work the free buffet provided by the R&A (and it was quite good too).

"Is this the Road Hole?"

It's a week after the Open contestants were arriving in St. Andrews, but it's fun to read Steve Elling's extensive account of first timer Jeff Overton's adventure to get there and his efforts to figure the place out.

The highlight of the day was when Overton walked along the gravel path and a rock wall situated down the right side of the 14th hole and blurted out, "Is this the Road Hole?"

Yep, he's truly an impressionable, wide-eyed first-timer. The most famous par-4 in the world, the Road Hole is actually the 17th. Before we arrive, some of the oddly named bunkers along the way were pointed out, like the Hell Bunker on the 14th and Principal's Nose, a cluster of three pot bunkers on the 16th.

After a T-11, sounds like Overton got to know the place pretty well. And the $20,000 in plane tickets was worth it!

"As far as I can tell NOBODY is writing off Tiger Woods. And, frankly, by all the available evidence, we SHOULD be writing off Tiger Woods."

Joe Posnanski files a different take on the state of Tiger's game.

And frankly… there’s good reason to write him off. This may sound cruel but I actually mean it as the opposite of cruel: More people SHOULD be writing off Tiger Woods.

First, he will turn 35 at the end of the year. There has been talk that this means Woods will still be in his golfing prime for the next few years, but history tells a different story. Since 1970, the average age of major championship winners is 32, and things tumble off for golfers after age 35. Fewer than a quarter of the major championship winners have been 36 or older. The only players since 1970 to win multiple majors after 35 are: Jack Nicklaus (4), Gary Player (4), Ray Floyd (2), Nick Price (2), Vijay Singh (2), Mark O’Meara (2), Angel Cabrera (2), Padraig Harrington (2).

More to the point, Woods has been dominant for a dozen years — which is a long time to dominate in golf. The greatest golfers have had a fairly short window of time when they dominate, and when that window closes, they stop winning major championships.

First Open Question: All Time Great Performance, Or Luck Of The Draw?

The Champion poses at the Swilken Bridge Monday after a press conference (click to enlarge)Or a little of both?

I'm pretty sure if Tiger, Phil, Lee, Ernie, even Paul, Rory or Martin posted the winning margins Louis Oosthuizen did, they'd call it one of the great performances in the history of the game.

There's little question he ended up having a great draw, but remember back to Thursday it was thought to be the wrong end of the draw!

Thoughts?

"i did tell a reporter that the conditions were ridiculous , bc that is what they were."

Thanks to read Amol for spotting this Jason Dufner post about Friday's wind and the suspension of play:

just a note about the delay on friday, so everyone has a clear idea of what happened. not that it matters much now 2 days latter, but it clears my name a little bit

had a 10ft putt on the 7th hole, as i placed the ball down it rolled away aprox 2ft. At that point i called a official over to make sure on the rule. was told to play it where it was, remarked the ball. Went to put the ball down again, rolled away another half a foot. The official saw it this time and got on his radio to report to whoever in the rules department about what was happening. Told to wait for another official to come over. Tell the next official what had just happened, he then gets on his radio to report what has happened to who i assumed was the central rules office. He then tells me to wait while they figure out what they want to do. 3-5 mins pass, the 2nd rules official then tells me to putt. i take 30 secs to putt, and miss. Then i have a 6 inch putt to tap in, as i go to stroke the ball, it is rocking back and forth, i turn and ask if that is considered a moving ball??? He tells me to mark and then proceeds to blow the horn 20 secs later to suspend play. At no point did i tell anyone i was not playing or that i refuse to play in these conditions. just wanted to clear the air with the real version of what had happened, instead of what tv or everyone else may have assumed to happen. i would never quit or tell a rules department when we should play or not play. and i did tell a reporter that the conditions were ridiculous , bc that is what they were. hope that clears a little up to all that have followed or commented on this topic. all the best to golfwrx followers. jason dufner

"I think the 17th tee has been a great success in terms of stiffening the test of that hole."

Peter Dawson today on the 17th hole's setup and performance:

Q.  Just going back to the golf course for a moment, the 17th hole we spoke about before the championship began, and you said, Peter, that players have been very complimentary about the changes that have been made.  They were all quite critical of the amount of rough up the left‑hand side and felt it was out of character with what was on the rest of the golf course.  What are your thoughts on that?  And also, why did you change the boundaries of the golf course so late in the week?  What was the thinking there?

PETER DAWSON:  Well, I do agree with Graeme that the rough left of 17 ought to have been somewhat thinner, but it grew away very rapidly amazingly in the two or three weeks running up to the championship, having been pretty much how we wanted it two to three weeks ago.

I think the 17th tee has been a great success in terms of stiffening the test of that hole.  I said that at the beginning of the week, we were hoping that the road might come more back into play, and by gosh, it did.  We had far more people on the road this year through the back of the hole than I've seen at previous Opens in recent times.  To that degree we are very pleased with the hole, and the player comments by and large have been very positive.

I heard about Graeme's comments.  I was out with Graeme when he was here practising and didn't receive any such comments, so I'm not sure if he's been misquoted or not, but the player reaction by and large has been extremely good. 

He definitely was not misquoted, as it appears in the transcript of McDowell's presser:

Q. Can I ask you about the changes made to the Road Hole and what level of influence it will have on determining the outcome of this championship?

GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I mean, the Road Hole has obviously been steeped in drama over the years here at the British Open at St. Andrews, and it's a difficult hole, and they've made it more difficult. I think architecturally the tee box fits in beautifully, just like it's been there forever. It really looks like part of the golf course. It looks really good.
You know, if anything, it's probably going to make me play the hole a little bit more conservatively because you're going in with 4- or 5-iron into a green, which was really difficult to hit with an 8-iron. The wind today was in out of the left, so I hit a really good drive and I had 170 to the front edge. So I had like a 6-iron onto the front edge of the green, and that's going to be my target to probably three out of the four pins.

The left rough there is probably some of the thickest on the golf course. You know, they've taken a hard hole and made it really, really hard. Yeah, there's going to be a lot of drama there. Like I say, I think guys are going to play it more conservative than they have. I don't think they're going to be taking pins on. When you have a 7- or 8-iron in your hand, it's pretty tough to ignore a pin. When you have a 4- or 5-iron you can ignore a pin. I see that as the only change. I see less bunkers because of it and I see less balls in the road because of it. So from that point of view, perhaps it might take the drama out of it. We'll see.

The other press conference highlight, showing a new level of attention to detail to bunker design by architect Dawson:

Q.  What's an inclinometer?  Obviously it says what it does.  But is that a proper name?  Secondly, what was the angle of the face in 2005?  And who decided and what was the thinking behind it not being the same this year as then?  And fourthly, was the face of the bunker reverted three weeks ago?  I read something about that before.  Are they all connected?

PETER DAWSON:  What happened three or four weeks ago was just a tidying‑up exercise.  The fundamental construction of the bunker was earlier than that.

An inclinometer is a proper name.

I don't know the answer to 2005; I can't remember, but I think it was three or four degrees steeper.  And the reasoning behind it was that we wanted to give the players some kind of chance of getting out rather than no chance.

2010 Open Championship Clippings, Vol. 2

Starting with the opening graphs, here's James Corrigan's lede:

Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, John Daly, Tiger Woods... maybe the name Louis Oosthuizen does jar a little on this list. It shouldn't. For the manner in which the South African won the 139th Open here yesterday would have made any of his fellow St Andrews champions proud. He did not merely defeat his rivals, so much as crush them deep into the sand beneath ground.

Phillip Reid in the Irish Times:

WHO NEEDS an unpronounceable Icelandic volcano, or even a vuvuzela, when you’ve got a being by the name of Lodewicus Theodorus Oosthuizen – pronounced “Wuhst-hy-zen” in the Afrikaner farmlands of South Africa from where he hails? Get used to the name.

Steve DiMeglio in the USA Today:

In a magical township once home to castles and cathedrals, where pathways are paved with cobblestones and structures are bruised from conflicts with storms blowing off the North Sea, a man known as Shrek to his friends delivered a fairytale ending.

Larry Dorman in the New York Times:

Throughout a march toward the British Open championship that went from improbable to inexorable with each stride down the Old Course’s hardening fairways Sunday, three things about Louis Oosthuizen did not change: his demeanor, his swing tempo and his resilience.

And the moment it seemed his grip on the claret jug might be slipping, when he missed a 15-foot putt for par on the eighth green and his lead over Paul Casey shrank to three strokes from five, Oosthuizen did what he had to do if he was going to win.

In some post play analysis, Lawrence Donegan notes this about Sunday's final pairing:

The body-language experts were on hand as the South African and Paul Casey, his playing partner for the day, were on the practice green, hitting a few putts before heading to the 1st tee. The unanimous verdict was that Oosthuizen looked the calmer of the two; serenely going about his business while the Englishman was the one initiating conversation. Oosthuizen looked equally composed out on the course, despite the inevitable pressure that comes with leading an Open. Scheduled to play in Sweden next week, where he only gained entry to the Scandinavian Masters by invitation, Oosthuizen can expect a warm reception from his fellow pros, although perhaps no one will be as delighted as Ernie Els, whose South Africa-based foundation nurtured the youthful golfer's talent. And there was plenty of talent to nurture.

Brian Keough reviews Rory McIlroy's week, quoting the 21-year-old who was gracious in defeat:

“I’m sure I’ll wake up in the morning and just look the fact I was 16 under for three rounds of golf around St Andrews in the Open and had just one bad round - it’s fine.

“I couldn’t help but think about it going up the last hole. You know, if I had just sort of stuck in a little bit more on Friday and held it together more, it could have been a different story.

Andy Farrell points out one key difference for Tiger this time around the Old Course compared to '00 when he didn't land in a bunker.

But it was the bunkers that got him. At the fourth he left a shot in a greenside bunker and at the seventh he drove up against the face of a trap and had to hit out backwards. Both mistakes cost double bogeys.

"I've got to keep building my game, putting things back to where they're more consistent day in, day out," he said. "I got to build that positive momentum and not have those holes like today where it breaks momentum."

The SI Roundtable guys had this to say about Tiger:

Shipnuck: It was a very, very hard week to putt, because of the wind, the huge undulations, the graininess of the greens, and the daily changes of the speed of the putting surfaces due to wind and rain. So I wouldn't read too much into Tiger's struggles. He'll make putts again someday, but never like he did as a fearless, carefree twentysomething.

Hack: Tiger's switching putters mid-tournament was the ultimate indication that he is in the wilderness — 99 putts over the first 3 days? What's next, a move to the long wand?

Karl MacGinty on what had to be one of the strangest sites of the weekend: Padraig Harrington grinding away on the practice tee and chipping green.

Clearly, no efforts were being spared in Harrington's bid to get his act back together as he toiled away for hours at a time under the watchful eye of his Scottish coach Bob Torrance.

With mind-guru Dr Bob Rotella and a couple of representatives of Wilson, his golf club manufacturer, also seen in attendance on Saturday, it had all the appearances of a brainstorming session.

Derek Lawrenson on what might be Monty's last Old Course Open.

Monty? Head down, shoulders slumped, he harrumphed his way over it, in time-honoured fashion. On the 17th hole, there had been one final glare at a spectator who probably blinked at the wrong moment. Heaven forbid he would look like he was enjoying his final minutes playing at the Home of Golf.

It all added up to yet more ammunition for the Monty haters, of course, but painting him as some one-dimensional Mr Grump has always been an exercise in stupidity.

Asked why he hadn’t posed on the bridge, the Scot replied: ‘That’s for the winners of this world. In fact I was thinking of walking on the plank that runs alongside it. That seemed more appropriate.’

The USA Today's Michael Hiestand on the first ESPN telecast:

Yes, it was anesthetizing. As ESPN host Mike Tirico  noted as a leaderboard graphic aired over a camera shot of St. Andrews' streets, "the bus on the right is the only thing making a move." Analyst Curtis Strange noted when Oosthuizen took at eight-shot lead over playing partner Paul Casey after 12 holes, "It's like a nail vs. a hammer — not much of a battle." (As for local color, Strange suggested quaffing Guinness was like drinking motor oil.)

And finally, also about the telecast, more from the SI gang:

Evans: Too much moralizing about St. Andrews and not enough golf. The roster was packed with major champions — Watson, Weiskopf, Strange, Zinger — but they weren't as sharp as guys who do TV golf on a regular basis. It's nice to see all the coverage, but ESPN could have taken a lesson from NBC or CBS on how a wonky golf telecast is better than one that has Peter Alliss trying to summon the spirit of Old Tom Morris.

Reiterman: The HD broadcast was amazing; I've never seen a British Open look so good. ESPN had a lot of bells and whistles that were nice, especially the live ball tracker. But did anyone else find it annoying, and even a little embarrassing, that the announcers kept pronouncing Louis's name two or three different ways? It's a unique name, but by Sunday you'd think they would have figured it out.

A Few 2010 Open Championship Final Round Clippings

By no means a definitive list (it never is!), but here's what's been posted and worth a look before I head for one more stroll across the Home hole and to bed. Starting with the ledes:

Doug Ferguson, writing for the Associated Press:

Hardly anyone knew Louis Oosthuizen, much less how to pronounce his name. Not many will forget the performance he delivered at the home of golf to capture the British Open.

Damon Hack for golf.com:

There have been easier names engraved on the claret jug — whose newest addition is a Jambalaya of consonants and vowels — but if Louis Oosthuizen doesn't yet roll off the tongue, give it time. In the centuries of golfers making pilgrimages to these links, few have taken a journey so unlikely and turned it into a victory so dominant.

Lawrence Donegan in the Guardian:

The little-known Louis Oosthuizen is not little-known any more after today adding his name to the most exclusive list in golf; that of Open Championship winners at the Old Course in St Andrews.

Lorne Rubenstein on Oosty and his caddie, who has won his second Open.

His mental acuity and Zack Rasego, his caddie since 2003, helped him stay the course. Rasego, who is black, and who caddied for Player when he won the 1974 Open, refers to the two of them as a “rainbow team.”

They are, after all, from the rainbow nation of South Africa, which recently held a successful World Cup. When Oosthuizen walked up the vast 18th fairway Sunday, knowing he would embrace the claret jug as champion in a few moments, he thought of Nelson Mandela. He was winning the Open on Mandela’s 92nd birthday.

“It’s good to win for South Africa on Nelson Mandela’s birthday,” Rasego said. “It’s a fantastic day for us.”

Steve Elling on Louis and his relaxed demeanor.

Saturday morning, after sleeping on the 36-hole lead, Oosthuizen called over his friend Schwartzel, a pal from their junior-golf days in South Africa, shortly before Louis teed off in the final group of the day. He had some comedy video clips he was watching.

"He was showing me things on his iPhone," said Schwartzel, who waited three hours to congratulate his buddy behind the 18th green. "He was laughing, and it was an hour before he teed off. He's so relaxed."

Ron Sirak on the winner:

What this tournament lacked in excitement -- for the last three hours, the only tension concerned whether the engraver would spell "Oosthuizen" correctly on the claret jug -- it made up for in execution by its winner. Louis Oosthuizen, a Euro Tour member by way of South Africa, simply outplayed everyone on his way to a seven-stroke victory over Lee Westwood. It may have been dull, but it wasn't a fluke -- at least not this week.

Oliver Brown on runner up Lee Westwood:

As Lee Westwood walked desultorily on to the 18th green to receive his memento of another runner’s-up finish, he could have been forgiven for wanting to use the Silver Salver as a dinner tray.It would, to be sure, have looked lovely in his Worksop kitchen. But Westwood is tired of the consolation medals, weary of being cast as golf’s perpetual nearly man. With this gruff manner and general loathing of any airs and graces, he is not exactly a natural bridesmaid.

Melanie Hauser on third place finisher Paul Casey, who we forget was worried about his career future not that long ago.

In a way, Casey felt blessed just to be here. He tore his rib muscles at the World Golf Championship-Bridgestone Invitational last year, then tore them again at the HSBC Champions. “I’ll be honest,” he said, “it was scary. I was very worried about it.  I thought, is this something I'm going to be battling the rest of my career?  Am I done?  Will I ever be pain free?  I had no idea.”

Alistair Tait wonders if this is the start of a trend of American golf on the decline.

Scott Michaux on Tiger's interesting takeaway.

Masters at Augusta National: T4. No legitimate threat.
U.S. Open at Pebble Beach: T4. No Sunday charge.
British Open at St. Andrews: T23. No renewed dominance.

How disappointed is Woods that he failed to make hay on the fields he has previously plowed through?

"The good news is I've won half my majors not on these venues, too," Woods quipped as he exited the podium.

And Bob Harig adds this in his breakdown of Tiger's week:

Woods has now gone nine majors -- two of which he did not play thanks to injury -- without winning. It is his longest stretch without a major victory since he underwent swing changes in 2003 and '04.

And in truth, he was further off in the major championships in those years, with just one top-5 finish and only two top-10s. Don't forget, Woods tied for fourth at both the Masters and U.S. Open this year -- his best tournaments this season.

Jaime Diaz talks to Doug Sanders about making a return to the Old Course.

"People say, 'Mr. Sanders, we're so sorry you missed that putt,' and a lot of them have forgotten that the guy that won was the greatest player in history," he said during a brief conversation before the leaders teed off Sunday. "It's almost like for them, I was the winner."

With this win, Louis Oosthuizen style from the European Tour.

GolfDigest.com Sam Weinman files Birdies and Bogeys from the final day.

And finally, the PGA Tour's Daily Wrap-up.