December 05, 2019 19:32:07
Sydney’s smoke haze has plagued the first round of the Australian Open golf championship, with former winner Matt Jones claiming he has never endured conditions as bad as those at The Australian Golf Club in the inner-south suburb of Rosebery.
- The smoke haze meant visibility and comfort levels were poor for golfers during the opening round at The Australian Golf Club
- Former winner Matt Jones complained of a burning sensation in his eyes caused by the smoke
- New Zealand professional Ryan Chisnall was forced to wear a surgical face mask
As the air quality reached “hazardous” levels in Sydney as a result of the bushfires in New South Wales, New Zealander Ryan Chisnall — an asthmatic — even resorted to wearing a surgical face mask as conditions deteriorated on Thursday afternoon.
Australian Jones, who shot a 4-under-par 67 in the opening round to be in a three-way share of third place, said visibility and comfort levels were among the worst he had endured during his professional career.
“It’s awful,” said Jones, who won the Australian Open in 2015.
“I’m not sure what the forecast is but the smoke’s not good at all. It’s tough to see your golf ball when you’re out there playing, where it finishes.
“Your eyes do burn up. I’ve got that cough like you’ve got something in your lungs, phlegm in your lungs or whatever, but it’s not fun.
“I hope my kids are inside in the hotel room.”
Jones said he had not encountered conditions as bad as those in Sydney when playing overseas.
“Even when I played in China, I didn’t think it was like this at all,” Jones said.
“Definitely not in Malaysia. It’s just unbelievably humid [there]. I’ve never experienced something like this.”
Australia’s Cameron Smith, tied for sixth following a 3-under 68 in the first round, said he hoped the challenging conditions would not take too much of a toll ahead of next week’s Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne.
“It’s a bit odd, isn’t it, but what can you do?” Smith said.
“I haven’t really felt any different, it’s just kind of the look. But we’ll see after the four days, it might take a bit out of everyone, I’m sure.”
With several sporting events cancelled this week as bushfires continue to rage all over New South Wales, children, the elderly and those with heart and lung conditions are most at risk.
St John Ambulance officials reported one asthma attack and “plenty” of people complaining of sore throats, stinging eyes and wheeziness among the galleries at the course.
Tournament officials were hoping forecast sea breezes would help clear skies by the weekend.
Meanwhile, two amateurs set the pace at the Australian Open in the first round, with Japan’s Takumi Kanaya and Taiwan’s Chun-An Yu atop the leaderboard after each posted a 6-under 65.
South Africa’s four-time major winner Ernie Els, who will captain the International Team at the Presidents Cup, could only manage a 1-over 72.
2009 Australian Open champion Adam Scott had a horror day, having recorded a 4-over 75 in his opening round.
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December 05, 2019 19:07:11
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