Hull leads rain-shortened SA Open

Second round scores recorded in the Cell C South African Women’s Open on Friday morning were cancelled after heavy rains led to a waterlogged golf course at San Lameer Country Club.

Round two will start afresh at 6.15am on Saturday. The tournament has been reduced from 72 to 54 holes.

England’s Charley Hull was leading by two strokes on five-under-par after six holes in her second round when play was suspended at 11.10am local time. At 1pm, Ladies European Tour Tournament Michael Wood announced that play was abandoned for the day.

Wood said: “We have reduced the tournament to 54 holes, given the fact that we assessed that the timings in place, we wouldn’t finish, without further delays, until Monday morning.

“We came here this morning at 4.30am and there were fairly strong winds. We finished round one in winds of 25 miles per hour, the wind further strengthened leading into round two with a few downpours. Fairways, tees and greens were unplayable with surface water.

“We got to a stage where if we re-started today a number of players wouldn’t start round two in these conditions and would play afresh tomorrow in completely different conditions to what we were faced with today.”

Thursday’ play was suspended overnight due to unplayable conditions and Hull resumed her first round at 6.30am on Friday. After playing eight holes in near gale conditions and driving rain, she posted a remarkable score of four-under-par 68 to lead by a stroke over Steffi Kirchmayr and Rebecca Hudson, who played their first rounds in fair conditions on Thursday morning.

Hull started from the second hole, playing as her 11th, and birdied the par-4 third hole to move one clear of the field, bogeyed the fourth, but recovered with a birdie on the sixth before holding steady with three closing pars.

“I finished off the round this morning in really windy conditions and I played really well,” said the Northamptonshire 18-year-old. “It was blowing a gale out there but I dug deep and continued and played very well.

Hull finished tied for second in this event last year at nearby Southbroom Golf Club, which was played in even worse conditions and which had to be reduced to 18 holes.

Hull said: “It’s just a thing that happens with golf and I’m looking forward to going out there tomorrow and starting afresh. I find golf so much more fun when it’s raining and windy. I know some people might disagree with me but I love playing in the wind and the rain because I try my hardest to post a good score.”

Of the other players who played in the tougher afternoon draw, South African Melissa Eaton was the best placed on two under par 70, with Lee-Anne Pace on one under par 71. South African Connie Chen, Norwegian Caroline Martens and Scotland’s Sally Watson were all two strokes further behind on one over par 73 and will go out early in Saturday’s second round.