Golf: Soggy conditions for Joburg Open

2010-01-14 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — The Joburg Open tees off on a soaked Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club on today, with over 200 mm having fallen on these fairways since January 1.

“I’ve never seen it this wet,” said Thomas Aiken, who is one of the favourites following a second-place finish to Charl Schwartzel in last week’s Africa Open.

“It’s very wet out there,” added defending champion Anders Hansen. “Last year was definitely drier. This year the rough is harder and it’s playing longer, so it’s going to demand good driving this week.”

But considering the freezing temperatures in his home of Northern Ireland, only Darren Clarke offered a more measured opinion on the rain. “It’s a little bit damp in places,” he said. “But then again, I’m from Ireland. We’re used to a little bit of damp.”

No doubt the rain will play a big role in this year’s Joburg Open.

Apart from lengthening an already tough East Course and bringing a greater edge to a more forgiving West Course — the tournament is shared by both courses for the first two rounds, and then played solely on the East for the final two rounds — there is also the threat of weather delays.

“This week is a test in that respect,” said Aiken. “If you can stay patient you’ll be better for it.”

Aiken is hoping to apply this patience to a week in which he is trying not to force a first victory on the European Tour in his home town.

“You can’t force the issue of a win. Of course I will be thinking of a win, and every week you try and win. But you can’t force it. I just stick to my gameplan and see what happens on Sunday.”

Despite the disappointment of losing out to Schwartzel last week, Aiken is confident that his game is headed in the right direction.

“What’s nice about the last 14 months is that it’s been really consistent. I started off the year with a bang last week, and I’m looking forward to another good week in my home city.”

Schwartzel’s victory last week so early in the year has also inspired another young South African to break through with a maiden title on the European Tour.

“It’s nice to be back and I’m focused on getting that first win,” said Louis Oosthuizen, who returns to the game following the birth of his daughter Jana.

“But it’s so wet, so we may not see the low scores we’re used to. With all the rain I think both courses will play a lot longer.”

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