Ill wind blows irate O’Hern’s title chances off course

AUSTRALIAN Open golfers felt the full force of Sydney’s unpredictable weather on a dramatic Sunday – and tournament officials, who had suspended play for more than three hours due to wind, felt the full force of the golfers in return.

”I’m a little pissed is an understatement,” said Australian Nick O’Hern, who endured a triple bogey just before play was halted midway through his final round. ”It’s been blowing like this for a while. You either call it an hour ago, or you don’t call it at all.

”I’m so passionate about this event. The Australian Open means the world to me. Other than the majors, this is the one event I want to win. I’ve come so close so many times, and to get off to a start like this – on a Sunday, where after nine holes, I’m thinking, ‘Here we go, this is going to be it’ … I just love this event so much, that’s why I’m so angry.”

The delay meant the last groups were playing well into the evening on Sunday in a bid to finish the tournament. As the Herald went to press, Brendan Jones was the clubhouse leader, after an eagle on the par-five 17th left him at three-under for the tournament. Veteran Peter Senior was still on the course a shot ahead of him as the light was fading, while Englishman Justin Rose was three-under.

The late drama was matching the events of earlier, when a television scaffolding toppled due to high winds near the 18th green shortly after tournament officials decided to suspend play with the overnight leaders still to tee off.

”I just played the best nine holes of my life,” said O’Hern, who had three birdies on the front nine. ”I shoot three-under for the nine holes, get on 10, winds howling still, and unfortunately, I had a bad hole and made triple [bogey] and then they blow the horn.

”I just wish we’d keep going – or they’d blown it an hour and a half [before]. I just don’t understand it. It’s ridiculous.” O’Hern also said he had spoken to a rules official about the delay in suspending play, suggesting he might be forced to explain the conversation. ”I mentioned something to my rules official walking, and I’m sure I’ll hear about it a bit later on,” he said.

Tournament director Trevor Herden maintained that the course was ”still playable” an hour before play was suspended. ”I can produce the graph of the wind if you’d like, to see how it increased,” Herden said. ”It’s not unplayable until it’s unplayable.”

O’Hern eventually recorded an even-par 72. After his round, he said: ”Condition-wise that’s probably about as hard as it gets. I’m surprised we went back out there because it was blowing about the same as it was when we finished.

”I don’t have the gauge that tells you all the gust speeds but it basically felt the same … I think a lot of the guys were surprised we went back out again because it didn’t seem like it had changed that much.”

Brett Rumford, who similarly shot a 72 to close, was another to express his disappointment. ”It’s just disappointing, because I was actually playing well,” he said. ”I had a nice rhythm, and had a feel for the way the round was going.

”I’m disappointed – only for that reason. When you get some momentum going, it’s nice to keep it going. I’m frustrated that we had to stop. But looking at the grandstand on 18, it’s probably an indicator that it’s getting a little bit out of control. It becomes a safety issue for spectators as well with flying debris, stands blowing over. It’s not just about us. This is for the safety of everyone.”

It was the second time in four years that play had been suspended at an Australian Open. At La Perouse in the 2009 tournament, high winds forced officials to suspend play in the second round. Play was called off at the Lakes after Andre Stolz’s ball rolled two metres off its mark on the first green.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.


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