Play abandoned in Durban
The first round of the inaugural Nelson Mandela Championship was abandoned with just one ball being struck as the rain showed no signs of relenting at the already flooded Royal Durban Golf Club on Thursday morning.
The only golfer fortunate enough to make use of his clubs on the day was the MEC for Economic Development and Tourism for the KwaZulu-Natal province -- Mr Mike Mabuyakhulu -- who ceremoniously opened the tournament with the traditional opening tee shot.
The players then had to wait in excess of two hours to find out their fate for the day before European Tour Director Mikael Eriksson and his team decided at about 9am that no play would be possible.
“We got a little bit more rain overnight and this morning. Nearly all the fairways are waterlogged, and we simply can’t play due to that,” Eriksson told supersport.com.
“We made the decision at about 8:30, and told the players at about 9 o’clock. Those decisions are always tough, but it wasn’t too hard to actually call it in the end. Everyone was in agreement that it was too wet to play golf out there.”
The course has been put through extreme amounts of rain in recent times, as 60 millilitres of rain fell last Saturday alone, and incessant rains in the last two months has seen the Durban area endure more than a year’s worth of its normal rainfall in just over 50 days. The course is understandably saturated as a result, although Eriksson believes the tournament could still reach its normal completion.
“We’re looking at restarting at tomorrow at 6:30am again, so we’re hoping the weather will improve over today and that the water will sink away. We have shortened the golf course dramatically so we’re hoping that will work,” he said.
“Shortening the golf tournament or reducing the number of holes is not something we have decided on yet,” he added.
Tee-off times for tomorrow will follow the same schedule as today, and, should the heavens be kind enough to provide us with no more rain, some great golf will lie ahead as the Sunshine Tour and European Tour stars chase the alluring €158 500 first prize pay-out and the inaugural trophy in honour of the great Nelson Mandela.
Catch all the action on SuperSport from 1:30pm on Friday.