Our man on Jeju Island takes another look behind the scenes at the Ballantine’s Championship.
Fog, fog and yet more fog
After the excitement of the big names such as Ernie Els, Anthony Kim and YE Yang arriving for the tournament, Day One proved something of an anti-climax by comparison. No sooner had the first groups teed off when the hooter went and off they came, with fog swirling around Pinx golf club to the extent that you could barely see 20 yards in front of you – something you might consider an occupational hazard when you drive the ball on average more than 300 yards. It was so bad at one point that you could have been forgiven for thinking the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud we’ve all been hearing about over here had finally reached us in Korea (more on that later). In total 6 hours and 40 minutes of play were lost – although the golf we did see, if you excuse the pun, was of the highest order, with Marcus Fraser in particular in outstanding form. So, with it just not feasible to squeeze in all four rounds, the decision was taken to reduce the tournament to 54 holes, giving the players chance to prepare accordingly. As a result we have seen some great performances, setting up a superb final day with a mixture of the experience (Els) and the inexperienced (Gareth Maybin) heading the leaderboard.
Back to that ash cloud
One of the considerations of course (although not the main one, it must be said) in the tournament not being extended into Monday was the ongoing travelling difficulties caused by the volcanic ash cloud. The spectre of it all loomed over us – not literally, we’re a little far away for that – for most of last week in China, as players, caddies and officials all wondered if we would be able to get home or whether Asia might be our home for a few more uncertain weeks to come. Thankfully the problems seem to abating (although let’s not count our chickens until we are on our flights) and it appears as though we should all make it back to home or Seville for next week’s Open de España.
Hold that bid!
Sometimes when players are asked to come into the media centre for a post-round interview they ask for a couple of minutes so they can phone their wife/girlfriend. Marcus Fraser did exactly that when he came in after his fine round of 70 on Saturday. With all due respect to Marcus though, he had a good reason to do so – his wife Carlie was in the middle of an auction of buy a new house back in Melbourne. He like Marcus on the course, Carlie was unsuccessful on this occasion although with the way her husband is playing it might not be a bad thing, given that he could be in for bumper pay day this week and an upgrade could be on the cards!