DURBAN, South Africa -- The start of the European Tour's season-opening Nelson Mandela Championship has been delayed for a second straight day after heavy rain left most of the course at Royal Durban Country Club under water again on Friday.
Organizers will try again to get the first round of the inaugural event, which is co-sanctioned by southern Africa’s Sunshine Tour, under way on Saturday morning.
"The further overnight rain and a huge thunderstorm obviously set us back by a long way now," said European Tour Tournament Director Mikael Eriksson. "Every fairway is almost completely under water now and there is no chance we will be able to play at all on Friday."
Thursday was also a washout at Royal Durban, with South Africa's east coast experiencing unusually high rainfall in the past few months.
While players made their way to the practice green and driving range, officials made every effort to prepare the course for play.
"The plan now is to try to start the first round at 0630 on Saturday morning," Eriksson explained. "We are hiring more pumps and more people to try to clear the water off the golf course as fast as possible."
The storm was not an unusual occurrence, but the intensity of it came as a surprise.
"The overnight storm started with unstable hot air over the interior of the country, which built into a storm over the Drakensburg mountain range and then moved to the coast," said Sunshine Tour climatologist Evert Scholtz. "Adding to the intensity of the storm was a flow of hot, high-energy air in the middle layers of the atmosphere, which descends from the tropics and can cause intense storms upon reaching the coast.
"Today is fairly clear, but it is cloudy over the interior, so there is the chance of more rain this afternoon."
The Nelson Mandela Championship is the first of three successive tournaments in South Africa to start the 2013 Race to Dubai.