Scottish Open: Rain causes chaos

Torrential rain, floods and landslides caused chaos at the Scottish Open with no play taking place on day three.

The tournament at the Castle Stuart course near Inverness has been reduced to 54 holes, with 78 players yet to complete their second rounds.

After several delays, officials decided to start play at 1930 BST on Saturday.

Players took their places out on the course but the officials decided the conditions were still not good enough and abandoned play for the day.

Second-round play was suspended on Friday evening with Graeme McDowell, Scott Jamieson and Peter Whiteford tied for the lead at 11 under par.

Half the 156-strong field had still to complete their second rounds and the pre-Open warm-up event has been cut from 72 holes.

The course suffered severe flooding, plus landslides on holes one and 12.

It is hoped that the second round will be able to get under way at 0700 BST on Sunday, with the third and final round taking place after that.

European Tour official Mike Stewart said: "We have decided that, in the best interests of everyone, it will be reduced to a 54-hole tournament."

However, more showers are forecast for Sunday, with an isolated thunderstorm possible overnight.

There is an option to continue the event on Monday, but that all depends on the conditions, the forecast and how much golf is left to be played.

Many of the players are involved in The Open in Kent next week and a charter plane for around 30 of them has been arranged, but when it leaves now has yet to be determined.

Joint leader McDowell said on Twitter: "Golf course a mess here in Scotland. There has been a landslide on one of the holes and all sorts."

Scotland's Colin Montgomerie needs a top-five finish in the competition in order to qualify for The Open, something he has managed every year since 1989.

"This is extreme, incredible, just freak conditions, end of the world stuff," he said.

"I've been 21 years without a break at The Open. It's a proud record and I don't want that record to break, but I'm running out of time now, especially with only a three-round event."

The 48-year-old currrently lies in joint 25th place at six under par, five strokes adrift of the leaders.

"They are having a big, big laugh - I would be if I was one of them," he added.

It is the first time the tournament has been played at Castle Stuart after it was moved from Loch Lomond.

Tournament director Peter Adams told BBC Scotland on Saturday morning: "We've had an enormous amount of rain overnight.

"It seems to be very isolated. Unfortunately, Castle Stuart seems to have had the worst of it.

"The forecast for this afternoon is for more rain and unfortunately for more thunderstorms, so it's a difficult period we are going through.

"We would've thought we would never be suspended due to rain here - it's just an uncharacteristically large amount.

"We do have the option to continue into Monday - we certainly have the golf course available to use.

"At the moment, it's too early to say what we would do. We are just assessing, as time goes on, our options.

"One of the great advantages we've got is that you could almost play here from five or six in the morning right through until 10 o'clock at night - that's a big advantage to us."

A bumper crowd had been expected over the weekend to see not only five of the world's top nine but also two home players at the top of the leaderboard and Colin Montgomerie - like Jamieson and many others - trying to earn a last-gasp spot in The Open.

That was going to the leading non-exempt player providing he finished in the top five.

Northern Ireland's McDowell, who won the event in 2008 at Loch Lomond, and Scottish pair Whiteford and Jamieson are unlikely to see play on Saturday, with organisers concentrating on completing the second rounds of 78 golfers.

Among those are the world's top two, Englishmen Luke Donald and Lee Westwood, who were both lying at seven under when play was called off for the day on Friday, having nine and seven holes respectively to complete.

Eight players who have little chance of surviving the cut withdrew from the tournament.

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