Winds gusting up to 50 mph made St Andrews almost unplayable as Padraig Harrington continued his preparations for the 150th Open.

The Dubliner, 38, hit balls for two hours in gale force winds before going out. But he was eventually forced to walk in after just five holes of his practice round.

He played 17 holes on Saturday, having started on the second hole, and may now be forced to play a full 18 hole practice round on Monday as he begins a very busy week.

He is due in the media centre at 3pm on Monday for an interview while at 3pm on Tuesday he will accept an honorary doctorate of laws at the University of St Andrews.

On Wednesday afternoon he joins Lee Trevino, Paul Lawrie and Tony Jacklin for the four-hole Open Champions Challenge.

Vijay Singh likes the extended 17th. “Why not?” was his reaction to the addition of 40 yards to the holeTiger Woods played all 18 holes but R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson confessed that the vicious west wind would have forced them to suspend play had the championship started on Sunday.

Dawson said: “The balls were moving right off the 11th green and we would have had to suspend play. Winds were gusting at over 50mph out there. That’s pretty extraordinary.

“I think the forecast for the first day might be a little wet but forecasting is quite an art form here on the coast. We don’t always get it right. Already this week we have had weather that has been quite a bit different from what was actually forecast. Inland, it is quite a bit easier to get right. So we will keep an open mind.

“We had some concerns earlier today about spectator safety and some things blowing around. But we got through that and the wind is well past its peak now. We had our safety engineers well alert to that.

“I wouldn’t see it as being a player hazard. Just over 50 mph out the far end and we had a gust of 48 right here as well. It’s been extraordinary wind.”

Steady as she blows!Dawson is expecting varied conditions once the action gets underway on Thursday, explaining: “The higest gust forecast for the moment is just under 30mph. There will be days where it will be calm as well. That’s what we want at an Open. A bit of a mixture.”

Henrik Stenson said: “It does not get any windier than that. It was brutal out on the links today.

“At the 17th I hit a few balls out ot the right to try and get on the fairway. One of them stayed out there and landed in the hotel car-park. I hope  it didn’t put a dent on someone’s Bentley.”