Play suspended ... TV scaffolding collapses on the 18th hole. Photo: Brendan Esposito
Play at the Australian Open has resumed at The Lakes after strong winds caused a three-hour suspension.
A television scaffolding toppled due to high winds near the 18th green shortly after tournament officials decided to suspend play. The golfers who were already out on the course were left to mill around the clubhouse waiting to get the green light to resume play.
We were managing very well through the 60-kilometre zone but once we got to 80 ... no golf course can defend 80 kilometre winds
One of those was Australian Nick O'Hern, who shot three birdies on his front nine but, as the winds continued, had a triple bogey on the tenth hole just before play was halted. O'Hern was "disappointed" that play was not suspended an hour earlier.
"It's been blowing like this for the last hour and a half or so," O'Hern said.
Australian PGA tournament director Andrew Langford-Jones said play had been suspended due to balls moving on five exposed greens. Advertising signage has also been blown onto the course.
"The TV tower has been blown over," Langford-Jones said. "Golf balls are pretty defenceless against winds like this.
"It's well over 70 kilometres (an hour)."
Langford-Jones said he expected the winds to die down early this afternoon. Should play be called off for the day, though, the players will return tomorrow, with overnight leader John Senden still yet to tee off in his fourth round.
The Open's tournament director Trevor Herden said gusts had reached 80km/h by the time the scaffolding fell. He also said the ball of Australian Andre Stolz rolled five feet on the first green due to the winds.
"At that point, it was going to happen all over the golf course, because of the wind power," Herden said.
"And at the same point, that tower blew over ... we had to get off. We have an obligation to the public and to the players. Then there's the golf course, which at that point became unplayable. We were managing very well through the 60-kilometre zone but once we got to 80 ... no golf course can defend 80 kilometre winds.
"We're just going to have to ride that out, and try and make use of every hour of daylight we've got."