The Loop

A Long Wait is No Help

SOUTHPORT, England--Heavy wind played havoc with Anthony Kim's ball on the 10th green and created a big backup on the tee during Saturday's third round, and the combination of conditions and the long wait was no help to four leaders who made double bogeys on the 408-yard par 4.

Kim's ball "blew seven or eight feet back" on the green, he said after a 71 left him seven over par for the Open. "I'd marked it and put it back down, so I couldn't replace it," he said.

David Rickman, the R&A's director or rules, said Kim "had difficulty getting the ball back in play" because winds kept the ball oscillating.

"We stood there for about 30 to 40 minutes," Kim said. "It felt like forever, but we got through it."

In the first round Lee Westwood marked, lifted and replaced his ball on the sixth green, but before he could play his next stroke, his ball was blown down a slope in front of the green. Westwood had to play the ball from its new position, off the green, but holed the chip shot for a bogey 5.

Kim, paired with Ross Fisher almost 2 1/2 hours in front of the leaders on Saturday, finally was able to putt and made his par 4, but a number of those who followed didn't have such luck.

After Greg Norman and K.J. Choi, the final group, had putted out on the ninth green at 4:51 p.m. local time, they were notified that they were the third twosome on the 10th tee, joining the pairings of Jim Furyk/Graeme McDowell and Rocco Mediate/Camilo Villegas. Norman and Villegas chatted amiably on a bench next to a hut about 75 yards from the tee, and minutes later Furyk and McDowell departed, Furyk on his way to the first of the 6s. Mediate and Villegas followed, Villegas blowing his drive to the right and suffering another 6. Norman and Choi finally departed the 10th tee 20 minutes after they had arrived, and both made double bogeys to drop to four over par, still in a tie for the lead at the time.

Rickman, asked whether officials were considering suspending play, said, "It's difficult; it's a judgment call. . . . Mainly based on the greens. They've dried out in the sun, and if we get situations where we get balls consistently moving, are not staying where they came to rest or players can't replace them having marked, lifted and cleaned, then they would be indicating signs that if they became consistent problems then we would have to suspend play."

Kim wasn't the only player experiencing difficulty on Saturday. Part of the backup came when Simon Wakefield, who shot a 70 and is three strokes out of the lead, watched his sand-wedge approach to the eighth hole finish off the green, only to see the wind move the ball. "The wind blew it three or four inches onto the green, so I was obviously able to mark it but then was not comfortable with playing the putt or hitting the putt because we were getting gusts," Wakefield said, concerned that the ball would move after he addressed it. "I spoke to one of the referees who called in, and they had had the same situation on the 10th, so we just sort of hung on and basically waited for the wind to die down."

Paul Casey, asked if the conditions were perfectly playable, replied, "No. The balls are moving on the green. I had one move on the eighth today. They're certainly oscillating on the greens, and it makes it very, very difficult. Looking at the scores, I can't believe I'm being interviewed, and I'm 12 over. That makes you realize how difficult it is out there."

Added Robert Allenby after his 76: "Two occasions I put my coin down on the green, and the ball decided to go for a run. It was just hard. . . . I feel like I've done 36 holes."*

--Mike O'Malley*