IT WAS the day Australia’s best golfers, and a smattering of internationals, were blown off course and then off the course. As television scaffolding toppled around them and advertising signage blew like tumbleweed, play at the Australian Open was suspended at The Lakes Golf Club.
For more than three hours during Sunday’s final round the players were forced to mingle in their locker room and the clubhouse area, playing cards, eating meat pies and wondering if they would be forced back on Monday to finish their rounds.
Some, like Australian Nick O’Hern, complained loudly. He had birdied three holes on the front nine but then endured a triple bogey at the 10th to undo all his good work. He said he was ”angry” and ”frustrated” that play had not been suspended earlier.
”I’m a little pissed [off] is an understatement,” O’Hern said just after play was halted. ”It’s been blowing like this for a while. You either call it an hour ago, or you don’t call it at all.”
Fellow Australian Brett Rumford said: ”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.”
Workers quickly removed the scaffolding and dismantled it, with the tournament director of the PGA Tour of Australasia, Andrew Langford-Jones, saying: ”While it is the Australian Open we certainly don’t want anyone hurt as a result of us trying to finish a golf tournament.”
After being forced off the course at 11.43am, players resumed their rounds at 2.50pm, as officials tried to orchestrate an unlikely Sunday finish. But the portable scoreboards that follow the golfers had to be abandoned.
While the danger from the boards had disappeared, the chance of being hit by errant golf balls had intensified. The wind made it extraordinarily difficult for the late-starting players to keep their balls on the fairways. Thus the national Open had been – literally – blown wide open.
❏ Gale-force winds affecting NSW brought more than 80 requests for help from emergency services, mostly relating to fallen branches and trees.
The weather bureau recorded gale-force wind readings at stations from Bellambi Point in Wollongong to Sydney Airport.
On Sydney Harbour, a southerly of 70km/h, gusting to 80km/h, was recorded about 12:20pm.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.