Confidential: Should Players Have Received a Warm-Up After Delay?

June 17, 2016

Each night during the U.S. Open, writers, producers and editors from the Sports Illustrated Golf Group give their opinions on the hot topic of the day at Oakmont. Agree with our takes? Disagree? Leave your answers in the comments section below or tweet us at @golf_com.

Danny Willett complained that players weren’t allowed to warm up after the first weather delay of an hour and 20 minutes Thursday at the U.S. Open, saying “You are in a U.S. Open, they don’t give you a chance to even hit a few balls.” He wasn’t alone in voicing that opinion. Did the USGA botch the decision to send the players directly back to the course without any warm up?

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: The USGA was trying to squeeze in as many holes as possible. Can’t say I blame them. I peg it all the time with just a few stretches on the tee – what’s the big deal?

Jessica Marksbury, multimedia editor, It’s easy to criticize the decision in retrospect, but the weather was crazy all day, and it’s my understanding that the USGA didn’t expect the first delay to be as long as it turned out to be. The goal was to get as many holes in as possible. An extra 15 or 20 minutes of added warm-up time could equate to one less hole finished, and that can make a big difference when you’re racing the sunset to finish the championship on time.

Alan Bastable, executive editor, The decision was made to help avoid two of the ugliest words in golf: Monday finish. The blue coats made the right call.

Cameron Morfit, senior writer, GOLF Magazine: Willett has had a lot of back issues for a guy his age, and he needs a proper warm-up. He isn’t the only guy with back concerns, either. The players had every right to complain. We knew about the bad stuff coming in the afternoon. The USGA, like many others, got back-footed by the morning storm.

Josh Sens, contributor, GOLF Magazine: If Willett and others failed to stay loose during the break that’s more their own fault than the USGA’s. I can’t imagine they forgot how to swing a club during the interlude. And you don’t need a range to loosen up. More than anything the tricky part during delays is staying mentally focused.

Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Letting everyone warm up would’ve cost another 20 minutes of the limited playing window left on Thursday. But yes, the USGA once again wielded its botcher’s knife. It also botched crowd control–when the weather delays ended or began, fans walked across fairways (where some players had marked their golf balls), around the edges of greens, wherever they wanted with no marshals in sight.

MORE: Players Ready for a Busy Friday  |  U.S. Open Leaderboard

Joe Passov, senior editor, GOLF Magazine: Tough call, and a judgment call, but the USGA got it right–or rather, they didn’t get it wrong. I watched a Diamondbacks-Dodgers game the other night where there was a prolonged delay on the field while a call at first base was challenged via replay. I contemplated whether it was fair that the pitcher had to stand there and take it all in, with no warm-up pitches after the decision came down. In the end, play went on, just as it did at Oakmont. Not sure how long the delay would need to be for me to change my mind, but I’m OK with the USGA saying in this instance, “Hey, we’ve got golf to play.” 

Peter Bukowski, associate editor, To me, this comes off as petulance. It was a long delay, but it was a long delay for everyone. Willett isn’t the only player in the tournament. There are a ton of factors at play here. For the sake of the Open, not to mention for the sake of the TV audience (aka money), it seems reasonable to expect a pro golfer to go out and you know … golf.

Pete Madden, senior producer, Let me be the first to offer Willett the world’s tiniest violin. It’s on the house.

Marika Washchyshyn, multimedia producer: You mean, did they do what they wanted to to make it interesting in sopping conditions at a super difficult course to begin with? I feel like this wasn’t a malicious thing, but then again, maybe it was another Mike Davis à la The Hunger Games plot to really mess with the players. Either way, I’m not bothered. They wanted to get the show on the road, like the rest of us.