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Saturday November 10, 2012

Tropical thunderstorms throws US$6mil Barclays Singa­pore Open into chaos

SINGAPORE: Tropical thunderstorms threw the US$6mil Barclays Singa­pore Open into chaos yesterday and threatened Rory McIlroy’s bid to seal the European money title this weekend.

After a rain-hit first day, play was suspended twice before finally being abandoned for the day as forked lightning streaked the skies and heavy downpours hit par-71 Sentosa Golf Club.

Thailand’s Nirat Chapchai and Simon Dyson held the joint lead midway through their second rounds, with half the field yet to take the course and more rain forecast for the weekend.

Organisers said more delays could force them to slash the event from 72 to 54 holes or to complete the fourth round on Monday. Last year, it was cut to 54 holes and still only finished on the Monday morning.

“At present, our aim is still to complete 72 holes, weather permitting,” said tournament director Jose Maria Zamora.

“However, if we do suffer more delays we would then decide, in consultation with the sponsor and promoter, whether to reduce the tournament to 54 holes or complete the fourth round on Monday,” he added.

Reducing the tournament could be inconvenient for world number one McIlroy, who was tied for 29th after 12 holes of his second round and needing a high finish to confirm himself as Europe’s top prize money-winner this year.

The 23-year-old, bidding to become only the second man to seal the money titles on both sides of the Atlantic in the same year, completed his first round five shots off the pace and went straight back out for round two.

Watched by tennis star girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki but suffering from a cold, McIlroy made a wretched start to his second round with bogey and double bogey in his first four holes.

But some razor-sharp iron shots got him back to one-under-par for the tournament before he was hauled off the course for the second time, in a golf buggy with Wozniacki sitting cosily on his lap.

“Nearly 12 hours at the golf course already today!” McIlroy tweeted, with a picture of Wozniacki asleep on a desk. “@CaroWozniacki really enjoying her holiday this week... Not!! #ratherbeonabeach.”

Chapchai was a first-round leader at the 2005 Singapore Open, and in 2009 he set a world 72-hole scoring record with a staggering total of 32-under-par 256 to win India’s SAIL Open.

However, the victories have since dried up and after only one top-10 finish this year, he said he had taken his father’s advice to lose some weight and had been visiting a Buddhist monastery to improve his temperament.

“I’ve been going there a lot to calm myself. I used to be very hot-tempered and I get frustrated easily especially at such a young age,” said Chapchai, 29.

“My parents sent me to the monastery and I became a monk for a while. My temper is better now but I still try to go back to the monastery once in a while.”

Ryder Cup star Francesco Molinari, his fellow Italian Matteo Manassero and Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn were a shot back from Chapchai and Dyson at five-under-par during their second rounds.

Last year’s runner-up, Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines, hit the shot of the day with a 161-yard hole-in-one on the par-three second - the second ace of the tournament, after Edoardo Molinari’s on day one.

Organisers of the event, sometimes referred to as “Asia’s Major“, have admitted they are keen to move it to a different time of year to avoid the notorious storm delays. — AFP

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