Some Open golfers upset after USGA refuses warm-up period after delay

ByBob Harig ESPN logo
Friday, June 17, 2016

OAKMONT, Pa. -- Several players voiced their displeasure over the United States Golf Association's decision not to let them warm up after a weather delay that lasted 79 minutes on Thursday during the weather-plagued first round of the U.S. Open.

Masters champion Danny Willett and defending U.S. Open champion Jordan Spieth were among those who started the first round at Oakmont Country Club and then were cleared from the course in the morning due to dangerous weather in the area.

When play resumed after a 1 hour, 19 minute delay, the players were not allowed to hit warm-up shots on the driving range or putts on the putting greens. And the rules of golf do not allow you to practice on the course.

"It's a challenge not being able to warm up, going out there and trying to hit tee shots at the U.S. Open,'' said Spieth, who completed 11 holes at 1-over par. "But it is what it is.''

Willett, who is 4 over through 12 holes, said, "No, that was a bad one.

"We sat in a cabin for an hour and 10 minutes behind the seventh tee without being given a chance to hit any balls or do anything. It's not like you're playing a Sunday medal; you're in a U.S. Open. They don't give you a chance to even hit a few balls."

A USGA official explained that the players were not evacuated from the course; they were simply held in position. That meant some, like Willett, were not brought to the clubhouse, but rather remained near where they had halted play.

The thinking at the time of the delay was that it would not last long, hence the decision to keep players in position. But heavy rains followed the dangerous weather situation, and the stoppage lasted longer than anticipated.

When play was stopped a second time -- for 2 hours, 29 minutes -- players were evacuated and then allowed to warm up fully before play resumed.

"Yeah, it was a shame,'' Shane Lowrysaid. "I mean, we were out in a cover beside the seventh tee. There weren't many seats available. We were standing there for well over an hour. And it wasn't ideal, but I went back out there. I felt OK. I kind of normally don't need to warm up that much, which is good for me, but I imagine some of the older guys might have been feeling it.

"That was fine. That's what the USGA had to do to get as much golf as they could in today.''

First-round play resumed Friday at 7:30 a.m. ET.

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