Rains stop play in Durban

HARARE - Excessive rains forced the abandonment of the Nelson Mandela Championship yesterday with just one ball been struck at the Royal Durban Golf Course in South Africa.

Sunshine Tour contender Ryan Cairns is the only Zimbabwean taking part in the $1,3 million co-sanctioned event after fellow compatriot Tongo Charamba failed to make the grade at the pre-qualifier on Tuesday.

However, none of the golfers from the field of 156 could play a single hole yesterday as the rain showed no signs of relenting.

The ceremonial opening tee-shot, which was taken by KwaZulu Natal provincial MEC for Economic Development and Tourism Mike Mabuyakhulu.

After that traditional tee shot, the players had to wait for about two hours before the European Tour tournament director, Mikael Eriksson, announced play had been suspended for the day.

“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 reporters after making the announcement.

“We made the decision at about 8:30am, 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.”

Play is now expected to resume today at 6:30am and tee-off times will follow the same schedule as yesterday.

Zimbabwe’s Cairns will tee-off at 7am together with the pair of Fabrizio Zanotti (Paraguay) and Trevor Fisher Jnr (South Africa) according to draw.

Cairns will be looking for his second victory on the Sunshine Tour circuit this year after winning the Vodacom Origins — Simola back in May.

“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,” said Eriksson.

“Shortening the golf tournament or reducing the number of holes is not something we have decided on yet.”

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