Rain hits South African Open

Heavy rain wrecked the opening round of the co-sanctioned South African Open at Durban Country Club.

The whole morning field got underway in the first round of the 100th of the South African Open Championship, but just two-and-a-half hours later, the parade was well and truly rained on.

Sunshine Tour tournament director Gary Todd, in conjunction with his European Tour counterpart David Williams, had determined that Durban Country Club had become so waterlogged that further play would be impossible.

“What we really need is 40-degree heat and 50-kilometre-an-hour winds,” said Todd as he announced that play would only resume at 8.30am on Friday.

“The aim is to get 36 holes played by the end of Saturday,” he said, “because at least 36 holes constitutes a tournament. Once we have that under our belt, we can look at the situation again and see if we can get the tournament completed by the end of the weekend.”

With just half the field on the course, the rain which has been around the KwaZulu-Natal city for three days now set in and some greens – notably the fourth and 18th – became waterlogged.

“The ninth fairway is a river,” said Todd, “and most of the bunkers are a mess. We can’t get play underway any earlier on Friday, because we need maximum drainage time.”

When play was called for the day at 2.30pm, there was a group of five players on two-under-par: It was headed by Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen, who had completed eight holes on the back nine.

David Drysdale of Scotland was through six and had made two birdies without a dropped shot, while the two-time winner of the SA Open, Retief Goosen, had made two birdies in a row in his opening four holes.

South Africans Divan van den Heever and Martin Maritz were each two-under through six holes.

Open champion Louis Oosthuizen was one-under through six holes, as was 2007 SA Open champion James Kingston and four-time winner on the Sunshine Tour in 2910, Jaco van Zyl.

Four-time champion Ernie Els was scheduled to tee off in the afternoon, and will now only get his round away on Friday afternoon.