CATRIONA Matthew took to Twitter yesterday to defend a decision to first suspend then abandon play in the Ricoh Women’s British Open after being irked by a claim it wouldn’t have happened in a monthly medal.
But, as winds gusting up to 56mph left players having to return today at 6.15am to either resume or start their third rounds, American Cristie Kerr, one of just nine players to finish, hit out at organisers.
“Apparently they just discovered its windy in Scotland,” was Kerr’s sarcastic comment on her Twitter account, where the two-times major winner also inferred she and her fellow morning starters had received a raw deal.
It came in the form a retweet, which read: “Been blowing like this all day and now they call it? #protectingtheleaders”.
Play was suspended at 12.30pm, with Matthew, who’d played two holes, confirming why on her Twitter feed. “Balls have been moving a lot on 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11,” wrote the 2009 winner as she waited to see if there would be a resumption.
It prompted one of her followers to question the decision through the following tweet: “This wind at the @RICOHWomensBrit is nothing more than that, its not gale force..yet! We’ve all played in much worse in our monthly medals!”
That may not have been incorrect, especially in Scotland, but Matthew stoutly defended the decision in a response which read: “It’s completely unplayable ..a monthly medal is a bit different!”
As a Beatles tribute band playing in the tented village belted out Help!, it seemed entirely appropriate during a five-and-a-half hour wait to see if play could be restarted.
Officials constantly reviewed the situation, in the hope the wind might die but, as the gusts continued, play was finally abandoned at 6pm. By then, some structural damage had been caused around the course but organisers are still hoping to get the event finished on schedule tonight, when both the European and United States teams for the Solheim Cup in Denver in a fortnight are due to be announced.
“After play had been suspended, we had recorded gusts of over 50 miles an hour, which I have not seen very often in this country,” said Susan Simpson, the LGU’s head of operations. “We will restart tomorrow morning at 6.15 and continue today’s round. Round four will start at 8am with no re-draw and our aim is to get the leaders out at 1.40pm, effectively the same as today.
“It is still going to be very breezy tomorrow morning but hopefully not as windy as today. If it reaches 30mph then we are likely to have another problem. A Monday finish is an option but let’s hope not.”
Asked about the comments from Kerr and some of her fellow early starters, she added: “There’s no doubt that conditions were tough from the very start - nobody could argue that.
“But, while we received a number of calls about balls oscillating on the green, we didn’t receive any for balls moving until one 40mph gust led to five calls simultaneously.”
One of those came from world No 1 Inbee Park after she noticed her ball move on the fourth green and, though told to play on without any penalty being imposed, play was suspended shortly after she’d teed off at the fifth.
Simpson revealed that consideration had been given to cancelling the scores of the nine players back in the clubhouse but said: “We don’t think that’s fair on the players who’d completed their third rounds.”
Of those nine players to finish, Kerr and Lydia Kerr, the 15-year-old New Zealand amateur, had carded the best score, a three-over-par 75 to both sit on four-over for the tournament. It left them 14 shots behind the overnight leader, Korea’s Na Yeon Choi.