Dubai Desert Classic: Players criticise play suspension

Several trees were brought down by high winds in the Gulf state

Players have criticised the European Tour’s decision to suspend round two of the Dubai Desert Classic in Abu Dhabi.

Winds reached 36mph and blew trees over at Emirates Golf Club, where play has stopped until Saturday, angering some of the 64 players to finish round two.

Former Masters champion Trevor Immelman called the halt “ridiculous”, while Ryder Cup player Chris Wood said the decision made the event “one sided”.

Tournament director Mike Stewart said the course was “unsafe and unplayable”.

Stewart added: “We had TV towers that the roofs were blown off. We had balls moving on the greens – blew into a bunker at one stage. Five trees came down.”

Tweet from Chris Wood

There are 65 players, including George Coetzee of South Africa, who leads on nine under, and Spaniard Sergio Garcia, a shot behind, who have nine holes or more left to play of round two.

England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick (three under par), Danny Willett (one over), Ian Poulter (three under) and Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell (four under), are all yet to reach halfway in the second round.

The winds also saw sand from bunkers cause problems for players

Stewart still thinks the tournament will conclude on Sunday as round two will be completed on Saturday with the third round commencing later in the day from a two-tee start.

However, a host of early starters on Friday stressed their frustrations as those set to face the gusts later in the afternoon were spared.

Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal – who ended five over after two rounds – said he was “very angry”.

South African Immelman, who is set to miss the cut at four over par, wrote on social media: “Suspending play now is ridiculous, half the field played 36 holes in these conditions.”

Martin Kaymer of Germany, who is tied for fifth on four under, said: “Hard to understand the difference between the morning play and now, therefore even more surprised about the decision.”

Martin Kaymer's caddie Craig Connelly's tweet

Earlier on Friday, 14-time major winner Tiger Woods withdrew from the tournament before the start of round two citing a back spasm.

The 41-year-old American, who only returned to action in December after 15 months out following two back operations, was five over after 18 holes.

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BBC Sport – Golf

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