Golf-European Tour season opener in jeopardy after more rain

DURBAN Fri Dec 7, 2012 1:23pm IST

DURBAN Dec 7 (Reuters) - The inaugural Nelson Mandela Championship is in danger of being cancelled after the first round was postponed again on Friday with much of the Durban Golf Club underwater after a huge overnight thunderstorm.

European Tour regulations state that a tournament must complete at least 36 holes to avoid cancellation and the prospects of further rain in Durban mean their 2013 season-opener is in doubt after a second day of no play.

"The further overnight rain, around 30 millimetres, and a huge thunderstorm has obviously set us back by a long way now," European Tour Tournament Director Mikael Eriksson told reporters on Friday.

"Every fairway is almost completely under water now and there is no chance we will be able to play at all on Friday.

"The plan now is to try to start the first round at 0630 (local time) on Saturday morning. We are hiring more pumps and more people to try to clear the water off the golf course as fast as possible," Eriksson said.

The Durban course sits nearly 15 metres below sea level and has suffered unseasonably high amounts of rain in recent months.

The 1 million Euro ($1.30 million) event is co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and their climatologist, Evert Scholtz, told Reuters there was a chance of more rain on Friday.

($1 = 0.7700 euros) (Editing by Patrick Johnston)

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