OPEN organisers asked spectators to delay arriving at Royal Lytham this morning after heavy overnight rain left car parks waterlogged.
Puddles were also scattered all over the Lancashire links but the second-day’s play got under way on time at 6.30am. “We’ve had far more rain overnight than we were expecting, unfortunately,” said R&A chief executive Peter Dawson.
“There’s been 11mm or so but the course can take it as the drainage here is good. There is some standing water but we can play golf and the Rules of Golf will deal with the casual water. The spectator conditions are not so good but we are working hard. We are told it will be dry for the rest of the day but, if anyone was thinking about delaying their arrival, that would be good.”
Lothians legend Bernard Gallacher told the Edinburgh Evening News that he hadn’t seen so much water on an Open course for a long time. “Oh my god,” he said on clapping his eyes on the puddles of water on a spectator walkway outside the Media Centre. “I remember one year at St Andrews there was no play at all while there was also a wet one at Troon. But, in recent years, I’d say this is the worst I’ve seen.”
Elliot Saltman, the only Lothians man in the field, faced a long wait until he discovered the state of the course for himself as he was out in the last group at 4.11pm. He was facing a battle to make the cut after a first-round 76 left him lying down the field in a tie for 143rd.
But the 30-year-old was feeling upbeat after finishing day one with a birdie-3. “It wasn’t what I was looking for but it is always great to finish with a birdie from six feet,” said the Archerfield ace. “It puts me in a good frame of mind for tomorrow so I am trying to stay upbeat about things.
“A couple of loose tee shots put me in the thick stuff. For instance, I doubled the third from the middle of the fairway after pulling my second shot with a 4-iron. I also had two fresh air shots in the rough at the tenth. I hit it left off the tee then hit it into thicker stuff, where I had two swipes without moving it.
“I then tried to grind my backside off after that to try and get some kind of score to keep me in the tournament and it was certainly a nice way to finish.
“I can’t let myself get down. I’m in the Open Championship and there are bigger names than me who’ve only just managed to score slightly better today.” Saltman, who played in one of his practice rounds with leader Adam Scott, said he’d been thrown a bit by a change in the conditions. “The course was playing completely different to what it was in the practice rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday,” he added.
“I’ll stick to my gameplan. I’m still feeling good. I now need to shoot four or five-under but it wasn’t that long ago that I shot ten-under (in winning a EuroPro Tour event at Fota Island).
“I’ll have a long lie tomorrow and watch a bit of the golf on the telly. It will give me a better idea of what I have to do.”
This is Saltman’s second appearance in the event, having also qualified at Turnberry three years ago. “It was great stepping back on to the first tee again in The Open,” he admitted.
“I felt I settled in a lot easier this time. It was a nice 6-iron for my opening tee shot. To finish with a 3, especially in front of a big crowd, was nice and it will keep me going for tomorrow.”