10 Jan 2020 | Amateur golf |

Bushfire smoke shortens SA Junior Masters

by Martin Blake

Justice Bosio, Aldrich Potgieter Image
SA Junior Masters winners Justice Bosio and Aldrich Potgieter today.

In a rare moment for Australian golf, a round of the South Australian Junior Masters at Royal Adelaide today was abandoned because of choking smoke pollution.

Smoke from the Kangaroo Island bushfires blew in over Adelaide this morning leaving the organisers with no choice but to cancel the round – less than a day after 42-degree heat on Thursday forced the cancellation of the second round.

Ultimately the 72-hole tournament – scheduled to have 36 holes on each of Thursday and Friday – was completed with just 36 holes played, Western Australia’s Aldrich Potgieter and Queensland’s Justice Bosio coming out on top.

For the 15-year-old Bosio, from the Sunshine Coast, it was second triumph inside a few days, the teenager having won the SA junior amateur earlier this week.

Adelaide’s Air Quality Index of 168 at 6.30am today made it the 11th-worst city in the world for pollution, according to a report in the ‘Advertiser’.

Faced with a warning of “very poor” air quality issued by the SA Environment Protection Authority in the morning, the worst possible ranking, organisers of the tournament took the step to cancel the morning’s round.

“At 7am we had a reading of 214 at the airport, our closest location, according to the EPA,” said Leah Tattersall, Golf Australia’s golf operations manager for SA. “We waited until the reading started to go down before we commenced play at 9.15am.

“Just as we commenced play, the wind picked up and blew through what smoke was still hanging around and dropped the temperature dramatically. Midway through the round some rain hit so we had a mixture of everything today!”

Tattersall said she had never seen conditions like it. “Everyone woke up to the smell of smoke in the early hours. It was definitely unprecedented. SA Health was warning people not to go outside if they could avoid it, and to cancel outdoor activities.

“Given that warning, we weren’t going to take the chance. Our hands were tied. Obviously it’s not an area we’ve had to contend with before. But really, you have to err on the side of caution.”

It is not the first time poor air has hampered an amateur golf tournament in Australia this summer. A Jack Newton Junior Golf event was cancelled in Canberra earlier this month because of poor air quality.

Joondalup’s Potgieter shot rounds of 70-69 to win the boys’ title by nine shots, the only player to go under par at five-under.

Bosio dominated the girls’ event, four shots ahead through the first round and ultimately winning by the same margin at two-over par from Yeah-Jin Lee of Western Australia.

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