US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick blasted the pace of play on Thursday as a “joke” after he and playing partners Tiger Woods and Max Homa needed six hours and eight minutes to complete their opening rounds on the Old Course.
Shared fairways and greens, plus fast-running ground bringing par fours into range off the tee and making par 614-yard par-fives reachable in two, all contributed to the painfully slow pace of play.
In a statement given to the PA news agency, an R&A spokesman said: “We are doing all we can to improve the pace of play today but recognise how challenging it is given the course layout.”
Three-time Open champion Padraig Harrington acknowledged the issues and wondered if it was possible to tee off earlier – the first tee time is 6.35am – or reduce the size of the 156-man field.
“It would be tough if they reduce the field because it might be past champions who get the axe,” Harrington joked.
“The problem is, you’re putting a lot of times from 40, 50 feet. That just takes time. It’s 40, 50 feet with a couple of mounds and you’re putting up to five feet.
“You’re waiting on the following green and the other green. Clearly it’s not a golf course built for this sort of thing in that sense.
“Whoever’s going to win is going to have to deal with it. You have to be very focused because there’s a lot going on, a lot of people moving into position and doing that.”