Date: October 03, 2015
Author: Tom Fee in Hong Kong

Typhoon wont stop the Aussies

At the Asia-Pacific Amateur, the Australian contingent made it clear they expect to have an edge if the weather turned sour in Hong Kong.

They will get their wish in the final round, but a category 3 typhoon, as forecasted, would not have been what they had in mind.

The wind speed is expected to reach, or exceed, the blustery conditions experienced this year at St Andrew’s during The Open Championship, causing the second round to be postponed and the finish to be pushed back to Monday.

This evening at the Clearwater Bay Golf and Country Club, the tournament committee put out a statement stating that if play is not completed tomorrow, then the result may be declared after 54 holes.

The leader at this stage is China’s Jin Cheng, who is a shot ahead of Australian pair Ryan Ruffels and Cameron Davis.

Cheng soared in the calm conditions on Thursday, shooting an opening round 62 that broke the course record by two shots. Davis and Ruffels didn’t fair anywhere near as well, sitting seven back.

Since Thursday, the winds have increased, and most Australians have scored lower in the process. Davis and Ruffels fired 64s yesterday, while today Antonio Murdaca and Lucas Herbert shot 64 and 65 respectively.

Tonight, the Australians are ignoring the forecast and preparing for nothing but a final round push for the title.

“We’re going through all of our normal post-round activities for sure,” said Golf Australia coach Paul Skinner.

“Like [GA Coach] Marty [Joyce] said to them, we don’t want to waste any mental energy thinking about the weather. We’ll deal with it then, if the round is cancelled, otherwise it’s business as usual.”

But the second placed Ruffels admitted that the weather will be at the back of his mind.

“I'm going to go through the same preparation that I do every day, but I’ll keep an eye on the forecast and just hope, I guess,” said Ruffels

“That's the main thing, because I’d really like to have a chance at playing tomorrow. “

The weather forecast makes some grim reading,

“Heavy showers and strong winds will hit Hong Kong this afternoon after the Observatory raised the No. 3 strong wind signal due to Tropical Storm Mujigae,” said a news report in the Southern China Morning Post.

With Muigae expected to pass 300km to the south-west, the report stated that winds in the Hong Kong are can reach anywhere between 41km/h to 62km/h.

It’s going to be an interesting day for the tournament committee, which consists of three major players in world golf – the R&A, Augusta National and the Asia Pacific Golf Association.

In their statement today the committee said they will do everything they can to ensure the final round is completed. To get an idea of what this entails, we spoke to Golf Australia Director of Rules and Handicapping Simon Magdulski.

“Well the greens weren’t cut today, and they almost assuredly won’t be cut tomorrow,” said Magdulski, who is a senior official this at this week’s championship.

At St Andrew’s, play was suspended when conditions became unplayable due to golf balls moving in the wind. But wind isn’t the only factor in play, with rain and field size likely to play a major role.

“Because it’s a half field instead of a full field [at the second round at St Andrew’s], that gives us a bit more time up our sleeves,” said Magdulski.

“With a full field, you can only really afford to lose 30 or 40 minutes, but with a half that gives us almost four or five hours of flexibility.”

The rain may also help slow the greens and keep the ball stable in the high winds, but too much rain can lead to flooding and a suspension of play.

The forecast tonight is for heavy rain, but if this rain continues throughout tomorrow flooding will likely be an issue.

Weather forecasting isn’t an exact science and Magdulski reiterated that the permutations for tomorrow are endless — but whatever the weather brings, he expects the right decision to be made.

“Just from the R&A we have their CEO, their Director of Rules in Dave Rickman, and their Assistant Director of Rules in Kevin Barker. We’re fortunate to have a really high powered rules team to on board for tomorrow.”