SHANGHAI - Heavy rain wiped out all play Friday at the HSBC Champions tournament, forcing organizers to find a way to squeeze in 54 holes over Saturday and Sunday to complete the event.
Henrik Stenson of Sweden led the damp first round Thursday with a 7-under 65. Four well-known players are just a stroke behind: Spaniard Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott of Australia and Americans Anthony Kim and Phil Mickelson.
Officials for the tournament, which includes 10 of the world's top 20 players, said they hoped to complete 72 holes by Sunday, but some play may be required on Monday to complete the tournament. Playing only 54 holes is also possible in the $5 million event at the Sheshan Golf Club.
"If we have any further delays ... there is a strong possibility that play in the fourth round may need to be completed on Monday morning, and this has been provisionally agreed with all parties within the tournament," said David Probyn, European Tour tournament director.
Play was to begin Friday at 8:40 a.m. local time, but persistent rain forced organizers to keep setting back the possible start for the 78-player field. Organizers canceled all play at 2 p.m. with play set to resume at 6:45 a.m. on Saturday.
The HSBC event is being called "Asia's major" by event organizers. There are suggestions it could become one of three World Golf Championships events. All three events are now played in the United States. However, that may require scheduling to earlier in the year when there when the weather is better.
Weather forecasts indicate improving weather on Saturday with clearing skies on Sunday. Temperatures are also expected to drop to about 10 degreed Celsius, down from about 15 C on Friday.
The wet, foggy weather has also clogged up shipping at the mouth of the Yangtze river, and has also stalled ferry services. Port authorities said visibility in some areas on the river was less than 200 meters with about 200 ships waiting for the fog to clear, state media agency Xinhua said.