Late adjustments made to Royal Troon as Open braced for strong winds
PLAY got under way as scheduled on the third day of the Open Championship despite officials making last-minute adjustments to the course at Royal Troon.
With winds forecast to gust up to 30mph, tournament organisers the R&A decided to keep the speed of the greens down and move some tees and pin positions.
A statement from the R&A read: "The weather forecast is for 15-25mph winds with gusts of up to 30mph throughout the day. Following our early morning set-up process, we have decided not to cut or roll the greens and certain pins and tees are being adjusted.
"Play will commence as scheduled and the players have been advised."
The R&A's director of rules Grant Moir told Sky Sports: "We've moved one hole position on the third to give more green to work with. The back nine, when the wind is coming in and across, it is more likely we will move the tees up. I think we will move the 11th tee up for sure.
"We've had balls oscillating out here when we arrived this morning as it was gusting about 26mph and at that point we do get a bit of movement, but hopefully the action we have taken this morning will mean we are fine for the rest of the day.
"The fifth green is exposed on the coastline and the 17th green sits high and flat so they are the greens we have been watching. We've taken action this week knowing this may be coming. The decision taken today is just something we have had to do."
In last year's Open at St Andrews, officials were criticised for resuming the delayed second round in high winds on Saturday morning, with only 32 minutes play possible before it was suspended as balls were blown out of position.
At the time, Ian Poulter told Press Association Sport: "Should they have cut holes 1-5 and 13-18 and not the rest? Should they have cut any greens at all? Louis (Oosthuizen) had a three-foot putt on 13, then he had a one-foot putt, then he had an eight-foot putt - and didn't touch the ball once."
South Africa's Haydn Porteous, who briefly led the Open when he covered the front nine in 30 on Thursday morning, was the first man out at 8:25am and playing on his own after 81 players made the cut on four over par.
And the 22-year-old again demonstrated his liking for the opening holes with birdies on the first, second and third to jump into a tie for 41st place.
Some of the game's biggest names were also among the early starters with two-time Masters winner Bubba Watson and current champion Danny Willett playing together and world number three Jordan Spieth in the group behind.
Colin Montgomerie and Graeme McDowell both thought they had missed the cut after poor finishes to their second rounds, only for driving wind and rain to send scores soaring and push the cut out by two shots.
Halfway leader Phil Mickelson and nearest challenger Henrik Stenson, who finished in the same positions at Muirfield in 2013, were not due out until 3:20pm.