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Dustin Johnson leads as Open heads for Monday finish

By The Sports Xchange
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Dustin Johnson leads as Open heads for Monday finish
American Dustin Johnson tees off on the 2nd hole on the second day of the 144th Open Championship, St.Andrews on July 16, 2015. Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI. | License Photo

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- With winds exceeding 40 mph, Dustin Johnson held a one-stroke lead after a stop-and-start second round at the 144th Open Championship on Saturday, forcing the finish to Monday.

The third round was pushed to Sunday and means the oldest championship in the world will have a Monday finish for the first time since Seve Ballesteros of Spain won at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in 1998.

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The R&A, which conducts the tournament, allowed the second round to finally resume at 6 p.m. local time Saturday at the Old Course after a delay of nearly 10 1/2 hours because of the fierce winds.

Johnson holed a four-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole -- his fifth birdie in round two -- and shot a 3-under 69 to take a one-stroke lead over Danny Willett of England.

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Saturday's play restarted at 7 a.m. local time, only to be halted just 32 minutes later.

"The wind affected every aspect of the game," said Johnson, who posted the 69 to back up his opening 65. "It was difficult to drive because of the crosswind and difficult to judge the distance to get the ball close to the hole, and putting was very difficult. Everything was a challenge.

"We were sitting around a lot, but I'm staying close at the Old Course Hotel and didn't have to spend a lot of time in the clubhouse. I got in a couple of workouts and spent the rest of the time in my room.

"It was their call to start in the morning, but I didn't understand why they stopped us because the conditions were the same as they were when we started."

Thirty-nine players still had to complete the second round when the day started, including Johnson and the winner of the last two majors, Jordan Spieth.

Play was suspended in the second round late Friday after torrential rains halted play on the Old Course, delaying the entire day by more than three hours.

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Johnson had the lead at the first restart Saturday but took four shots from just off the green to get down for a bogey on the par-5 14th hole. He made par on the par-4 15th before play was suspended.

Willett, a two-time winner on the European Tour, didn't hit a shot on Saturday after recording a 69 on Friday after the rain delay.

Spieth, playing in the same group with Johnson, took three putts on the 14th hole to make par and had another par on the 15th. After play resumed, he bogeyed the 17th and birdied the 18th to shoot a 72 and is five strokes back at 5-under after two rounds.

"We should have never started in the first place," Spieth said after he walked off the 15th green when played was suspended.

Spieth is within reach of history heading into Sunday's third round.

"I still believe I can win this tournament," Spieth said. "I need a really solid round tomorrow, though, because Dustin is not letting up."

The green on the 11th hole in the morning proved to be unplayable as players would replace their ball after marking it, but the ball wouldn't remain still.

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"Balls were not moving on the greens and while the conditions were extremely difficult, we considered the golf course to be playable," the R&A said in a statement. "Gusts of wind increased in speed 10-15 percent after play resumed. This could not be foreseen at the time that play was restarted and made a material difference to the playability of the golf course."

Paul Lawrie of Scotland, who won the 1999 Open at Carnoustie in a playoff after Jean Van De Velde of France self-destructed on the 72nd hole, also was caught in the late finish and posted a 70 that left him two strokes back in third.

Adam Scott of Australia, the 2013 Masters champion, shot 67 and was three strokes behind in a tie for fifth with Marc Warren (69) of Scotland, Zach Johnson (71), Robert Streb (71), Jason Day (71) of Australia and Louis Oosthuizen (70) of South Africa, who won the Open in 2010 at St. Andrews.

Amateur Paul Dunne of Ireland shot a second 69 and was four shots back in a tie for 10th with Luke Donald (70) of England, Retief Goosen (72) of South Africa and Hideki Matsyama (66) of Japan.

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Phil Mickelson shot 72 and was tied for 38th, while Tiger Woods, who has won the Open Championship twice at St. Andrews, missed the cut.

NOTES: Tiger Woods shot a 3-over 75 in the finish of his second round, and with his Thursday round of 76 had a 151, seven shots over the cut line of even par 144. "I think I only made three birdies in two days," he said. "The golf course wasn't playing that hard." Woods also missed the cut in the U.S. Open, the first time he has missed the cut in consecutive majors since he turned pro ... Jordan Spieth has some work to do in his attempt to be the only golfer since Ben Hogan in 1953 to win the first three majors of the year. He three-putted five holes Saturday, shot even-par 72 and his 36-hole score of 139 is five back of leader Dustin Johnson.

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