More delays than play on miserable first day at Nationwide Bogota Open

By news services


Published: Thursday, March 03, 2011 | 7:14 p.m.

Overnight rains, a soggy golf course and hovering afternoon storms caused a major disruption in the first round of the Nationwide Tour’s Pacific Rubiales Bogota Open, where only half the field managed to get started. There were 7 1/2 hours of delays, compared to just 3 1/2 hours of actual play.

When darkness settled on the Bogota Country Club course, Darron Stiles was at 4 under par through 13 holes and leading by one. Australians Matthew Giles and Ewan Porter, South Africa’s Garth Mulroy, Tommy Biershenk of South Carolina and India’s Rahil Gangjee were at 3 under and had all played at least 10 holes after several starts and stops.


This is the second year that the Nationwide Tour has come to historic Bogota Country Club after the season opener in neighboring Panama.

“It was like I had a real job today,” said Giles, who is in the lead group off the first tee. “I was here from 6 to 6 and I still didn’t get all my work done.”

Seven others players, including Colombia native Camilo Benedetti, are at 2 under par.

“It’s a day of patience,” said Gangjee, who is in his rookie season on the Nationwide Tour. “I’ve done this so many times on the Asian Tour but I’ve never done it so many times at once. When we finally got out there I was able to hit some nice shots.”

The start of play was delayed one, then two, then three, then four and finally five hours after rains that have plagued the Bogota area for the past two weeks dumped another half-inch of water on an already oversaturated course.

“Every player has their own way to get ready for a round and you go through your routine in anticipation of starting,” said Porter. “I warmed up in the gym three times, went to the range three times, ate two breakfasts and three lunches. I even went back to the hotel for a few minutes and had a coffee.”

Players had time for several pots as the morning dragged on as officials and the grounds crew struggled to get the course in a playable condition.

“This is the wettest I’ve ever played on,” said Porter, who grew up on a course below sea level in Australia.

“The balls are plugging in the fairways and on the greens,” said Gangjee. “Drivers are pitching and coming back. The fairways are like mush, maybe closer to the texture of a chocolate mousse dessert.”

Stiles took the lead with four birdies, including one at the par-5 13th, his final hole of the day. Lift, clean and place conditions were in effect, giving the players a chance to wipe the mud off when they found a fairway.

“It’s no fun playing out there,” said Stiles, who tied for second at last week’s weather-plagued Panama Claro Championship. “Having the ball in your hand is worth a shot and a half per round. The key is distance control and spin control when it’s this soft.

Those currently on the course will resume play at 7:15 a.m. Friday and the second half of the field will begin their opening rounds at 8:30 a.m.