Els rails at organisers as storms prolong tournament

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The Independent Online

Ernie Els was due to take an eight-shot lead into the delayed final day of the BMW Asian Open - an event he felt has descended into "chaos."

Less than 90 minutes play was possible in the final round yesterday before the threat of lightning forced the players off the course. Three and a quarter hours' play was eventually lost and the prevailing view among the players was that the fourth round should be abandoned and the tournament reduced to 54 holes.

Only 21 players had made it onto the course, many had already checked out of their hotels and were trying to catch flights home via Hong Kong yesterday, with several playing in next week's Italian Open in Milan.

With Els holding a five-shot lead the result looked a foregone conclusion but the decision was taken to resume play shortly after noon, with the event extending into today.

"I guess they want to play 72 holes but the guys going to Italy have no chance now," said Els, who faces a five-foot birdie putt on the seventh green when play resumes at 7am local time today. "For some reasons the sponsors want 72 holes but the players are not too happy. This weather was supposed to come in on Saturday but if it didn't come yesterday it was going to come today.

"I suppose the question is why not play off two tees instead of one and try to get the thing done. It is always easy to question afterwards but that is the way the players feel. We never get consulted.

"I want to get back to the hotel as quickly as possible and now I have to explain to my kids why I am not coming home tonight. I don't know how they are going to take it."

Simon Wakefield was torn between the chance of playing with Els and a guaranteed second place if the tournament was reduced to 54 holes, an outcome that would have secured his card for next season.

"An interesting day to say the least," said the 31-year-old from Newcastle-under-Lyme. "I'm surprised they continued to Monday but then I wouldn't have had the chance to play with Ernie, which has been an absolute treat."

Wakefield bogeyed the fourth and birdied the fifth and chose not to play his second shot to the seventh when the siren sounded to suspend play.

BMW Asian Open (Shanghai, Ch) Leading final-round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): (Play suspended for day - 24 players to complete 4th round 7am local time today): 279 S Little 71 70 72 66. 284 N Zitny (Aut) 75 69 71 69; K Ferrie 72 68 74 70; J Knutzon (US) 71 72 71 70; C Cevaer (Fr) 70 69 73 72, A Wall 71 69 72 72; M Foster 70 72 70 72, A Groom (Aus) 72 71 69 72. 285 F Delamontagne (Fr) 72 70 71 72; M A Jimenez (Sp) 70 73 69 73. Selected: 286 C Montgomerie 73 70 73 70.

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