PORT EDWARD, KwaZulu-Natal – South Korea’s DK Kim brushed aside strong winds that forced the first round of the SunBet Challenge to be suspended as he enjoyed pride of place at the top of the official leaderboard at Wild Coast Sun Country Club on Wednesday when play was interrupted shortly after 11am.
When the wind only showed signs of getting stronger for the rest of the afternoon, tournament director Reinard Kilian made the decision to suspend the first round for the day, leaving Kim on three-under-par through 12 holes, enjoying a one-stroke lead.
The first round will resume at 8am on Thursday, with the second round not starting before 1.30pm.
“We kept an eye on the wind all morning and it was a constant speed and then gusting at speeds of more than 55km/h, which made it impossible to play. With the forecast indicating that it was not going to die down today [Wednesday], we made the decision to resume tomorrow [Thursday],” Kilian said.
“At this point, it is likely that we will finish very late on Friday, but we are confident that we will still complete 54 holes.”
The 34-year-old Kim, who began on the 10th hole, had reason to feel frustrated about his round being interrupted because he had just eagled the par-five third hole when play was suspended.
“The wind was quite strong and the third was all downwind. I hit a good drive and then hit my second to just three feet,” Kim said.
The highlight of his round thus far capped a strong resurgence by Kim after he was two-over-par through his first five holes. But he then collected birdies at the par-five 16th and the par-four 18th and second holes, before the brilliant three on the third.
“I hit the ball good the whole day. The first five holes I didn’t play too badly, they were just simple drops and I three-putted the one hole. I felt good, I was hitting good spots, but in these high winds, you could hit a good shot and the wind would take it,” Kim said.
Inveterate Sunshine Tour winner Jaco van Zyl made his mark early on with birdies on the first and second holes, and another on the par-four fifth, putting him second on the leaderboard, although he had just dropped a shot on the par-four ninth when he reached the turn and play was suspended.
Only five other golfers were under-par in the tough conditions, the in-form Neil Schietekat, Rourke van der Spuy, Anthony Michael, veteran Jean Hugo and American Clancy Waugh all being on one-under. Schietekat, the leader of the Order of Merit delivered by The Courier Guy, has played 12 holes, while the rest are through nine.