BEIJING, April 22 /Xinhua-PRNewswire/ -- Strong winds caused havoc at the
US$2.35 million Johnnie Walker Classic here today with half the field yet to
begin their first rounds at Pine Valley Golf Resort and Country Club.
( Photos: http://xprnnews.xfn.info/JWGC/Day1/picture1.htm
Tournament officials suspended play at 10.14 am when gusts of winds
started to measure at over 51 kph, making conditions unplayable for the star-
studded field. Play was eventually called off for the day at 3.15pm and will
resume Friday at 6.30 am.
Australian Adam Scott, the world's number 10, heads the leaderboard where
he expertly negotiated his opening 10 holes in three-under-par but there were
several players who were running up big numbers.
Korea's Choi Kyung-ju was flying the Asian flag, battling to two-under-par
through nine holes while the tournament's drawcard and two-time former
champion Ernie Els of South Africa was one-over after nine.
Apart from balls moving on the greens, the high winds were also blowing
some of the game's top stars off course. World number three Els saw his
approach to the 18th green veer well left of his target which led to a bogey.
The 24-year-old Scott, who started from the 10th, birdied the par fives on
the 13th and 16th as well as the par four 18th hole as he stayed bogey free
before play was halted. His playing partner Sergio Garcia of Spain was one
under par while Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand, the third player in the group,
struggled to cope with the difficult conditions, running up a double bogey and
a bogey on the 16th and 17th and was two-over for his round.
"I've never played in such windy conditions except for one occasion in
Korea," said Thongchai. "It was unplayable with the ball moving on the putting
green at the sixth hole. I'm glad they called off play for the rest of the
day as it was just too windy," added the current Asian Tour number one.
Europe's Ryder Cup heroes Paul Casey and Luke Donald were even par and
two-over respectively while Chinese upcoming star Liang wen-chong was even par
through nine holes and in better position than playing partners Nick Faldo,
who was four-over, and Donald. The first groups out this morning had managed
to complete only 13 holes.
Tournament Director Mike Stewart said: "We had very strong winds this
morning and from 9.45am, the intensity increased. The balls were moving on
the first, sixth and 14th greens and we suspended play at 10.14 am. We
monitored the winds and it averaged at 40kph and we tested the balls on the
greens as well in regular intervals and they were moving."
The Johnnie Walker Classic, Asia's richest event, is tri-sanctioned by the
Asian, European and Australasian Tours.
The Johnnie Walker Classic is more than just a golf tournament. Along
with a week of official parties, Johnnie Walker will be raising money for the
"Keep Walking" Thailand Tsunami fund and will be promoting messages
encouraging people to drink in moderation. This includes the 15th hole, on
which the signage carries messages about responsible drinking.
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SOURCE JOHNNIE WALKER