Australian PGA Championship to end on Monday after heavy rain halts play

bobby gates
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Final-round play was halted Sunday when rainwater overwhelmed the course.
By
Dennis Passa
Associated Press

Series:

The final round of the Australian PGA Championship was postponed until Monday because of heavy rain, with Peter Senior holding a one-stroke lead after nine holes.

The round was called off Sunday about three hours after play was suspended. Officials said more than 2 inches of rain had fallen on the course overnight, and the players who managed to get on the course were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls on the fairways.

American Bobby Gates, the third-round leader by a stroke, bogeyed two holes in a row to fall out of the lead just before play was called. He was level in second with Australian Peter Fowler after nine holes.

 There are 24 players still to play when the round resumes early Monday morning.

“We’ve been out to inspect the course, and it’s now in worse shape than when we suspended play,” said Andrew Langford-Jones, director of tournaments for the PGA of Australia.

Senior leads at 12 under par overall after both he and Fowler both finished at 1 under on the day.

Trailing Fowler and Gates by a stroke were last week’s Australian Open champion, Geoff Ogilvy, and fellow Australian Richard Green, playing in the same group after completing 13 holes. They were level with Australian Matthew Griffin, who had played 14 holes, and countryman Andrew Stolz, who played 11.

Gates, playing the Coolum course for the first time, tried to be diplomatic when play was called despite a tough officiating decision that had forced him to hit an awkward shot out of a bunker that was nearly flooded by rain. He ended up bogeying the hole.

“I’ve never played where it’s gotten to this point before, but I understand they want to try to get it in,” Gates said during the rain delay. “The greens are a little tricky, some faster than others, but it’s just another challenge.”

Senior, who said he felt Gates got a bad decision on his bunker shot, said the last three holes that he and Gates played were extremely difficult, and “the 10th tee was actually underwater when we got there.”

“I was just a little disappointed that the round wasn’t called a little earlier. A lot of guys were suffering out there, not so much with the rain, but when the fairways become so water-logged that you can’t actually hit golf shots that’s when it should be called,” Senior said.

At least the finish should be less controversial than in 2002, when fading light meant that Australians Peter Lonard and Jarrod Moseley had to share the title after a playoff.

After both players parred the first playoff hole, an official approached them to see if they wanted to continue playing, be declared joint champions, or return on Monday to finish the playoff. The players decided to split the first- and second-place prize money. It was the first time in the-then 97-year history of the tournament that joint winners were declared.

Despite the suspension, Senior is confident he is capable of maintaining his bid for victory on Monday.

"I am ready to go," he added. "I holed a good putt on 9 to keep my round going. It would not have worried me to have stayed out there, but as I said the fairways were a bit ridiculous.

"I am playing good enough to keep going,” he added. “The tournament is wide open, there are around 10 guys with a chance to win so it is very exciting."