Two-tee start about avoiding lightning

July, 19, 2014

7th GreenDottie Pepper/ESPNThe 7th hole at Royal Liverpool had standing water on it after play ended Saturday because of a deluge shortly after the final groups finished play in Round 3 of the Open Championship.

HOYLAKE, England -- There was considerable consternation over the R&A's decision to go to a first-ever, two-tee start at the Open -- especially when the really poor weather and lightning that was forecasted did not materialize. Although there was heavy rain at times, it was mostly early, and everyone finished -- before rain pelted the course afterward.

It wasn't the rain R&A officials were concerned about -- most likely, the tournament would have gone on Saturday afternoon, although photos showed some greens with standing water, which would have halted play. Lightning was the big reason. Lightning is rare in the U.K., but the forecast called for it, and officials wanted to give themselves the opportunity to complete the round if there were delays.

"It's easy to say now that it was the wrong decision looking at the weather we've had thus far," said 2011 Open champion Darren Clarke. "But if they have a couple of bolts of lightning in the next couple of hours, it's going to mess up everybody's day, isn't it? They've had to do what they had to do to try and get it done today, and they're trying to do what's best for the tournament. So there can be no blame apportioned at all to the R&A for that."

Bob Harig | email

ESPN Senior Writer