The carnage on the fairways was followed by the recrimination in the locker room as the Open organisers were accused of giving preferential treatment to the big names and of being "stupid". Martin Kaymer and Thomas Levet spoke up for the disgruntled when asked about the wind suspension.
While Rory McIlroy questioned the Royal and Ancient's decision to call them off, Kaymer's rebuke was of a more cynical tone. "It was unfair," said the world No 13, not previously known for being outspoken. "Zach Johnson and myself had asked the officials to stop play earlier. They should have stopped it an hour earlier. On the 12th and the 13th, the ball was moving around already. Maybe they were protecting the better ones who were playing later."
Play was postponed just as the afternoon's feature group reached the first green. Tiger Woods, Justin Rose and Camilo Villegas were standing over their putts when the hooter sounded. By then, Kaymer had suffered enough. "I just wanted to finish and get out of here," he said. "It was probably one of the hardest days I've ever had on a golf course. They're lucky the greens are slow because they would have had no choice but to suspend play two or three hours ago."
Later Levet slammed the R&A for being "stupid" with the pin positions, a resentment shared by another Ryder Cup man in Oliver Wilson. "It was unplayable," he said after a 79. "It was a joke out there. Every single pin was on the high point on every green and knowing the wind is going to be like this, it makes no sense.
"Obviously I'm a little bitter because I've not played very well but I think they have made a mockery of the tournament and that's a bit of a shame. They've got to use their brains when they know it is going to be that windy."
Wilson also agreed with McIlroy's criticisms. "They stopped it for wind and yet it was windier when we got to the ninth – it made no sense," he said. "For me they shouldn't have stopped it in the first place but I don't know what they would do because the 11th green is unplayable. What do you do when it is like that? Do you cancel it and don't go back out or don't cancel and carry on with everyone playing in the same conditions? It seems a bit silly to me."
However, the governing body defended their decision. This was the first wind delay since 1998 at Birkdale and the R&A have always been reluctant to halt play. "A number of greens just became unplayable," said David Rickman, the rules secretary. "We had problems at the 12th, 13th, 10th, 11th and seventh, those out at the far end near the estuary. The odd ball oscillating happens, the odd ball moving happens, but when you have a series of incidents in close succession, that's the time when play is just not possible."
Meanwhile, Trevor Immelman, the former Masters champion, lambasted the rule which sees players penalised if their ball moves in the wind when it is being addressed.
"It's so unfair because you haven't really done anything wrong and the ball starts to roll and you incur a [one-stroke] penalty," he said. "That was the kind of thing you had to be careful of today. It took us 45 minutes to play the 11th hole – and that's a 170-yard par three."Reuse content