DOHA, Qatar — European Tour officials reduced the Qatar Masters to 54 holes when they called off play Friday after strong winds moved golf balls and blowing sand reduced visibility on several holes.
Officials initially suspended play at 9:13 a.m. local time after gusts of up to 35 mph. Safety became an issue, with signs getting blown around.
Officials were hoping to resume play, but with no sign of a respite, they called off the round. Play will restart at 8:45 a.m. today.
First-round leader Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano dropped two shots on his first five holes to fall to 4-under through seven holes.
Tournament director David Probyn said sponsors and those holding television rights wanted to end the tournament on Sunday, so it was reduced rather than postponed.
“There is no point in us putting the guys out on the questionable golf course for one or two hours because it is not going to change the situation in what we can achieve if we have to finish Sunday night,” Probyn said. “We have taken a decision to suspend play and come back tomorrow morning.”
About 66 golfers had started the second round before play was suspended, and most seemed relieved to leave Doha Golf Course.
LADIES EUROPEAN TOUR: In Gold Coast, Australia, U.S. Open champion So Yeon Ryu shot 11-under-par 61 to take a four-stroke lead after two rounds of the Australian Ladies Masters.
Ryu, who had 12 birdies and a bogey at Royal Pines, had a two-round total of 17-under 127.
Before Friday, Ryu marked her balls with “62” to represent her career-low round. Now she will be remarking them.
Christel Boeljon finished birdie-birdie-eagle to shoot 65, putting her in second place.First-round leader Lee Bo-mee (69) and Nikki Campbell (67) were tied for third, seven strokes behind Ryu.