Second-round at the RICOH Women's British Open suspended

RICOH Women’s British Open
Royal Liverpool Golf Club
Wirral, United Kingdom
September 14, 2012
Friday Notes and Interviews

Suzann Pettersen, Rolex Rankings No. 6
Michelle Wie, Rolex Rankings No. 53
Karen Stupples, Rolex Rankings No. 88

Second-round play at the RICOH Women’s British Open was suspended on Friday due to high winds that resulted in unplayable course conditions.  Play is scheduled to resume at 6:50 a.m. local time on Saturday morning with the entire second round still needing to be played.

A total of 36 players recorded scores on Friday morning at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club before play was initially suspended at 8:25 a.m. local time. Winds gusting up to 60 mph made it difficult for players to keep balls on the green or on the tee. While officials had hoped to resume play mid-afternoon, the conditions had not drastically improved and the decision was made at 2:00 p.m. to suspend play until Saturday morning.

After play was initially halted on Friday morning, the Rules Committee of the Ladies Golf Union declared that the scores recorded by those early groups would be “null and void” in accordance with Rule 33-2d.

Here was the statement from Susan Simpson, the LGU Tournament Director, on why the second round will be restarted:

“The Rules Committee has declared the scores returned this morning null and void in accordance with Rule 33-2d.

The competitors began their round in extremely adverse weather conditions and conditions subsequently worsened despite our belief that they would remain stable.

It would have been unfair to those competitors not to declare play null and void and cancel all scores for the round in question. “

Not unprecedented…This is not the first time in LPGA history that scores have been nullified. It’s happened at least twice on Tour, occurring at both the 2001 LPGA Champions Classic and 2003 Samsung World Championship. In both of those events, the first round was washed out due to rain and the round was restarted.

Moving target: England native Karen Stupples grew up playing in many types of weather conditions on a links golf course but Friday brought a kind of wind she said she’d never witnessed while playing a round.

Stupples teed off in the first group on Friday morning at 7 a.m. and she said that while the wind was a factor throughout the few holes she played, she experienced something new on the third green.

“On the third, my ball started oscillating and it wouldn't stop,” Stupples said. “It just sat there and just kept moving and I had to call for an official to come and figure out what the ruling was with that, and she said, hit it.  Even if it's oscillating, you can hit it.  I'm like, really?  It's quite disconcerting, because how do you hit a moving ball?  Because it can wobble a little bit, and you catch it not quite where you used to.  I don't know, it can affect everything, and it did.  I made double-bogey there.”

“I've seen balls roll because of a wind gust but not a continual just blowing constant.  That was just brutal.”

Trouble standing? Michelle Wie is known as one of the taller players on the LPGA Tour but she joked that her height was not an advantage with the wind howling on Friday morning at Royal Liverpool.

“I think it's one day that's really good to be short, because I felt like a flagpole out there,” Wie said with a laugh. “I felt really tall and like I was going all over the place.”

Suzann Pettersen, Rolex Rankings No. 6

On the morning scores being declared “null and void” and restarting the second round…
“I think it’s only the right thing to do. The conditions were unreasonable and unfortunately it took 2 ½-3 holes to realize that it was unplayable.”

“I don’t think from the players’ perspective that there was any other outcome. It wasn’t just unfair conditions, it was unplayable. “

Michelle Wie, Rolex Rankings No. 53

COLIN CALLANDER:   Ladies and gentlemen, Michelle Wie has been kind enough to come in today to talk about everything that's happened or not happened.  Must have been very frustrating for you all today.
MICHELLE WIE:  I mean, it was a long day for sure and waiting.  Came to the course at 5.00am.  It was dark at that point and I was walking past the third hole and it was raining sideways at that point.  I've never seen conditions like that in my life.  Got there, stopped raining but the wind kept blowing and blowing and kept getting worse.
It was hard to tell at the first tee because it was sheltered with a tent a little bit.  But once we got out there, 11, 12, it was pretty bad.

COLIN CALLANDER:  Were all the balls actually moving on the greens at that stage?
MICHELLE WIE:  Oh, yeah, I mean, my ball was barely staying on the tee on 12.  I mean, it was about to fall off.  It was just like wobbling all over the place.  When the gusts come over you, literally, almost fell over a couple of times.  I saw Cristie almost fell over on her shot.  And especially on the 12th green, the balls were not staying at all.  They were rolling, seven, eight feet.

COLIN CALLANDER:  So it was clearly the correct decision?
MICHELLE WIE:  I think so.

Q.  I remember you once saying that Hawai'i was very windy at times, but not as bad as this?
MICHELLE WIE:  No.  I would say windy conditions would be 15 miles an hour, 20 is really bad.  The gusts were going up to 35 this morning.  That's really, really, really, really windy.  

Q.  Did you think it was playable when you teed off and at what point did you think it should have been stopped?
MICHELLE WIE:  I think it was a very tough call to make just because, I mean, I thought it was very iffy when I went out.  I put a couple balls on the green, on the practise green right before I went out and the balls were not stopping on the practise green.  And mind you, that's a very flat surface.
But it was very had hard to tell because she have some sheltered areas and you have some very open areas.  Starting on the back nine, the first tee box, the 10th tee box was sheltered with a tent, so it was hard to tell.

Our rules official came up to us on the first hole and they were like, play may be suspended or may be cancelled today, we are see how conditions are, once we got up to the 12th hole, it was clearly -- it was unplayable.

Q.  Can you briefly walk us through the holes you did play today. 
MICHELLE WIE:  I was on 10 today and I missed a birdie putt for par.

And then I got to 11 kind of pulled it a little bit left, and interesting, I had a downhill, side downhill lie with the wind off my back from the rough and I really thought I was going to whiff it because I could not get my balance.  The gusts were just blowing me over.  But I got it out to the right and made a bogey on that hole; under those conditions, you know, not a bad score.
And got to 12, I was on the 12th fairway and we were waiting for quite a while because I mean, none of the balls on the greens were stopping once they were marking it.  I think Bo, the rules official, was called over about four or five times, and finally the sixth time, Beatrice decided to go up to the green to really make our point that really it's unplayable right now.

Q.  Do you have any opinion on what should happen now, three rounds or still play the fourth and play on Monday?
MICHELLE WIE:  You know, I really have no opinion about that.  It's the British Open, I would love to see it played four rounds, whether it goes onto Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, whatever.  I would love to stay over here longer.  But we'll see how it goes.  You have to take it round by round.  It's their decision to make and I'm just here to play.

Q.  Were you getting irritated out there the fact that you are were having to play and that scores were going to be absolutely disastrous?
MICHELLE WIE:  That's the luck of the draw and unfortunately I was not on the good part of the draw today.  But you know, it is what it is.  You can get irritated at times.  But you know, it was the right call that was made just because it was unfair.
Tough conditions, I understand, some draws can get tougher conditions than the other and it can be a couple of strokes difference but this was simply unplayable.  I think lucky/unlucky was thrown out the window.  This is the fair thing to do.

Q.  What's your form coming in at the time, and if you had planned to peak for this tournament and win the British Open?
MICHELLE WIE:  Hopefully it's a good time to peak, that's for sure.  I'm just taking it slowly.  Especially with conditions like this, it's going to be windy for the rest of the week.  And especially on a golf course like this, you have to be patient and if you have opportunities, you have to go grab them.

Q.  Is this is the first time you've played holes in a tournament that don't count?
MICHELLE WIE:  I think so.  I'm trying to think of another time, but it was cancelled before I went out that day so this is the first time play was suspended not by rain, but by wind, so pretty interesting, for sure.  It was pretty cool to be out there today.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
MICHELLE WIE:  Yeah, the rules official told us on the first tee.  We were fully aware. 

Q.  What were the players' reaction in the players' lounge?
MICHELLE WIE:  Well, we all agreed that it was unplayable.  I mean, we were just, you know, telling stories back and forth about how ridiculous the conditions were that we were playing.  It was interesting hearing all the stories for sure.

Q.  Do you play next week?
MICHELLE WIE:  Yeah, I play next week but I don't have to be there until -- by Thursday.

Q.  Including stories, what were the best ones you heard?
MICHELLE WIE:  I mean, the 12th hole was pretty good actually.  But some of the stories we heard on the front nine, the scores and whatnot.  I was thinking today, you know, under these conditions, breaking 90 would be a good thing.

Q.  If scores didn't mean anything and you could play in these conditions, would you take the opportunity?
MICHELLE WIE:  That's a very good question.  I don't know.  I just may, you know, just to see how it would go.  But it was just, it was hard.  I think it's one day that's really good to be short, because I felt like a flagpole out there; I felt really tall and like I was going all over the place.

Q.  When you got to the 12th green, did you find yourself what was in a full-blown row carrying on?
MICHELLE WIE:  No, we just wanted to get our opinions heard and we just wanted to get a second opinion.  You know it's bad when a rules official gets called to the green six times.  You know that something's up.  It was good.  We got the committee to come and look at it.  It's hard because some holes were more sheltered than others and 12 was one of the most open holes, especially where the pin was today.

Karen Stupples, Rolex Rankings No. 88

Q.  You were out there this morning and got to experience first off; take us through the conditions this morning?
KAREN STUPPLES:  At 7.00 this morning, I think all of us in our group was hoping that we were not going to have to go because it was just brutal.
The first hole, par 4, under 400 yards, nowhere near reachable and all of us hit it fairly long and fully-capable, in-the-wind players, too.  Couldn't get anywhere near it.  Brutal.  Chipping and putting, very difficult in these conditions, too.  Second hole was all the way downwind.  You couldn't hold the green.  You couldn't land it short and keep it to stay on the green because of the wind, very tough.  So again, just ridiculous.

On the third, my ball started oscillating and it wouldn't stop.  It just sat there and just kept moving and I had to call for an official to come and figure out what the ruling was with that, and she said, hit it.  Even if it's oscillating, you can hit it.  I'm like, really?  It's quite disconcerting, because how do you hit a moving ball?  Because it can wobble a little bit, and you catch it not quite where you used to.  I don't know, it can affect everything, and it did.  I made double-bogey there.

So on the next hole, Angela's ball rolled, and she marked it and off it went.  You know, anything can happen, and the trouble is, links golf course, you get a large gust of wind, and the ball rolls, it can roll off the green into a bunker.  You know, and then you have to play it from there.

So just brutal conditions.  And I don't think people realise how windy it was out there for the balls to be moving like that -- because if they are like, oh, you're a bunch of wimps, you should be playing.  No.  It's not like that at all.  It's just impossible to play golf in these conditions.

Q.  Talking with Michelle in the media centre, she said they had to call a rules official six times; was that a common theme for you, just to have to keep asking?
KAREN STUPPLES:  Yeah, it really was.  I mean, we know the rule, but we needed them to know, this is what's going on.  You know, it was going to take forever to play, because the ball kept rolling, and then you had to wait for it, re-mark it, and go through the process again.  And the ball would roll again and you had to remark it.  It was an ongoing battle against the golf ball and the wind, and I'm afraid when the wind is like this, it just won.

Q.  And for them to make the decision to just nullify all the scores this morning, was that you were hoping for just knowing how the conditions were?
KAREN STUPPLES:  It really was.  I mean, none of us had played enough holes for it really to be an issue.  And I think for the tournament in general, I think you're going to have a better tournament because of it.  It just was not fair on the people that started.

And I know it's the British Open and I know you're going to get tough weather breaks and a better flip-flop of the draw sometimes, however, this was to the max.  This was extreme and I really feel that they made the right decision.

Q.  And I know they said they have not made decisions yet, Sunday or Monday or what might happen; what's the feeling from you guys as players?  How strange is it to kind of have an entire day wiped out?
KAREN STUPPLES:  Well, I actually think the general sense of opinion is that with it being a major, it should be a 72-hole event.  You shouldn't have it being 54.  I think for the most part, most of us feel that you could get 36 holes in on Sunday.  Start off early, keep the same groups, just keep on going.  Two-tee start, have a packed lunch at the turn, don't stop and sit down for an hour, boom, just turn it around and get on it, just 36 holes, straight hitting.

You know, and I think in many respects, that would kind of be fun, not just for -- well, for the spectators, as much as anything, because they will get to see a lot of golf on Sunday.

Q.  For you guys, when you heard the stoppage of play earlier in the day, was the feeling that you probably wouldn't be going back out there?  What was that like?
KAREN STUPPLES:  I think that the officials were fighting a bit of a losing battle.  Their heart was in the right place to try and get us out there and I really believe that it was the right thing to do is to try and get us back out there.

However, the weather just didn't cooperate.  It had to be significantly better because it was just brutal out there.  But once you pass the point of no return, which is about 3 o'clock, I think they realized that it was absolutely futile trying to play any later because you couldn't play 18 holes, and make the cut, in time to have any of the third round go on Saturday.
So I think that's really what they decided and I think it was the right move, I really do.  Today is just unbelievably difficult out there.

Q.  You said earlier, the conditions were really just unplayable, and you played your fair share of links golf throughout the years and all of the different wind conditions, but was this one of the worst you've ever seen?
KAREN STUPPLES:  I have grown up on a links golf course and I've seen everything.  The only thing that was missing was a whole ton of rain.  But if we had stayed out there, we would have got that, too.
Yeah, I've never experienced a ball oscillating like that on a green and having to stand over the putt and hit it.  I've never experienced that.  That was a whole new one on me.  I've seen balls roll because of a wind gust but not a continual just blowing constant.  That was just brutal.

I even played once, we had a hurricane come through, and I played the morning after the hurricane come through.  It was windy and I was just a kid and it was fun, it was no big deal.  There was nothing riding on it.  There was no major championship riding on it.  But even now, I don't remember being quite like this.  This was extreme.

Topics: Notes and Interviews, Ricoh Women's British Open, Pettersen, Suzann, Stupples, Karen, Wie, Michelle [+]