By Andrew Alderson at Windross Farm
The New Zealand Women's Open must wait until today to find a champion. Yesterday play started at 7.40am but squalls across the Windross Farm course saw postponements totalling more than five hours at the McKayson-sponsored event.
The odd streak of blue sky - and a fine patch in the early afternoon - flattered to deceive. The biggest problem was surface water amassing on the greens and fairways, making them unfit for play.
The final tempest saw hoardings fly across the course, coupled with player angst.
Third round leader Belen Mozo was captured on television remonstrating "we're like sheep" and playing partner Brittany Lincicome was overheard saying "this is dumb".
Adding to the drama, a Sky Television contractor slipped down a hill and donked his head. Ambulance staff took a precautionary stretcher on to the course, but it was not required.
Brooke Henderson has a three-shot lead at 17-under-par through six holes of her final round. She secured birdies at the second, fourth and fifth holes. The 20-year-old Canadian demonstrated a composed presence as she added to a bogey-free third round card.
Henderson foreshadowed what the leaderboard faced in the final round when she spoke after 54 holes.
"It depends on the conditions but if it's anything like today [Saturday], a round of five or six-under will probably win [the tournament]. If it's light rain, it might make the greens softer and we can be more aggressive. If it's heavy rain, it'll be a challenge to stay dry and hit solid shots."
Henderson's assessment looks accurate so far.
Mozo is four shots back in second equal with Lincicome; the Spaniard is two-over-par and the American is two-under-par for the round.
The trio are playing together in the final group.
If the final round cannot be completed, Mozo would win the tournament and secure the US$195,000 first prize because she led Henderson by one-stroke at 15-under-par after three rounds. Second place earns US$120,900.
Bo Ream, the LPGA directors of rules and competitions, said they are "aiming to get 72 holes in if possible".
Spectator entry is free today after parking arrangements were negotiated with Ardmore Airport for an extra day. Play will start at 8.15am.
"There's quite a bit of casual water, so we're not sure it's fair for all players," Ream said of the course. "We want as much done today [Sunday], so we play less tomorrow."
Players eventually managed about one extra hole each before the final gusts struck.
Ream said that the LPGA was working closely with tournament staff and sponsors to smooth any possible logistical issues.
"Course conditions are the number one factor alongside what the tournament sponsor is looking for, and the travel schedule for the following tournament.
"The players want to play 72 holes, especially when it's advertised in advance.
"We've got players travelling all over the world, but don't have an event next week, so there's flexibility there."
Most of the crowd persevered through the disruptions in jovial spirits, aided by the hospitality tents. Play was delayed between 10.05am and 12.28pm and again between 2.15pm and 4.50pm.
It is also worth sparing a thought for volunteers who acted as custodians over players' balls on incomplete holes during the rain.
New Zealand's Lydia Ko was tied for ninth after going through 10 holes at one-under-par. That left her nine-under for the tournament and eight shots off the lead.
Ko birdied the opening two holes amid a sea of loyal umbrellas, but suffered a third bogey out of four for the tournament at the par-4 eighth.