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Madeira Islands Open 2015: Daily Leaderboard Analysis, Highlights and More

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2015

FUNCHAL, MADEIRA, PORTUGAL - MARCH 22: The fiest tee area and the putting green under water prior to the second and final round of the Madeira Islands Open at the Santo da Serra Golf Club in Santo da Serra on March 22, 2015 in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Rain stopped play at the Madeira Islands Open on Sunday, as storms in Portugal forced the European Tour to cancel the tournament after just one round was completed. The Tour’s official Twitter profile revealed the news:

The European Tour @EuropeanTour

Unfortunately due to the bad weather the #MadeiraIslandsOpen has been cancelled. http://t.co/TTJB02X860

Green keepers tried frantically to get the course in playing order throughout the day, but the unrelenting elements meant that their efforts were in vain.

Play was initially suspended, as officials hoped for an afternoon start time, while players impatiently gathered in the clubhouse waiting for news.

Kevin Phelan, who sat two shots off Joachim Hansen’s first-round pace at two under par, even resorted to building a house of cards to keep himself amused, per European Tour:

The European Tour @EuropeanTour

Kevin Phelan looks ridiculously proud of his house of cards. #MadeiraIslandsOpen http://t.co/FJyAoEVkp1

That, and his hopes of getting back on the course, came tumbling down soon after, though.

The European Tour stops off in Adagir, Morocco, next week, where we’re hoping more than 18 holes can be played.

Don’t fret, though, forecasts of 23 degrees and sunny mean we should have a tournament to enjoy.

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Day 3 Recap

FUNCHAL, MADEIRA, PORTUGAL - MARCH 21:  Bradley Dredge of Wales in action during the continuation of the first round of the Madeira Islands Open at Santo da Serra Golf Club in Santo da Serra on March 21, 2015 in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal.  (Photo by Ross
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

The first round of the 2015 Madeira Islands Open was finally completed on Saturday, and while Joachim B. Hansen was able to keep his one-shot lead at the top of the leaderboard from Friday's action, a total of 17 players now sit within just two shots of the lead heading into the final round.

Hansen shot a four-under 68 on Friday before play was canceled due to heavy rains, but eight players in total managed rounds of three under, ensuring Sunday's finish will be a frantic one. Here's how the leaderboard currently looks:

2015 Madeira Islands Open Leaderboard
PositionPlayerOverallRound 1 Score
1Joachim B. Hansen-468
T2Andrew Marshall-369
T2Adrien Saddier-369
T2Jean-Baptiste Gonnet-369
T2Roope Kakko-369
T2Jaakko Makitalo-369
T2Peter Whiteford-369
T2Alessandro Tadini-369
T2Antti Ahokas-369
T10Jens Fahrbring-270
Europeantour.com

Finland's Jaakko Makitalo joined Hansen at the top of the leaderboard during the first session of the day, but play was halted after just one hour and 13 minutes. He returned to the course in the afternoon only to bogey his first hole and finished the day with a three-under 69.

As shared by the European Tour's official Twitter account, the weather hardly improved on Saturday, and the staff had to work overtime to get the course ready for action:

The European Tour @EuropeanTour

What would we do without greenkeepers? #MadeiraIslandsOpen http://t.co/arFalRsbo3

A fantastic eagle on the seventh was offset by three bogeys in total for Makitalo, but he told the European Tour's official website he was still happy with Saturday's round:

Of course I’m happy with that. It was not a great three-putt on the 17th, but I had a tough putt downwind and that can happen and after all of that, I’ll take a 69.

I just tried to keep my hands warm, have a good rhythm in the swing and try to get the putts near and something will roll in.

It’s always different when you go back out and it’s difficult. But that’s how it is and it’s the same for everybody.
Andrew Marshall joined Makitalo in second place, chasing Hansen by a single stroke after a round of three-under 69 of his own. A mental lapse on the eighth gave the Englishman his only bogey of the round, but he more than made up for it with four birdies.

Teen sensation Renato Paratore was two over after the front nine before putting together a great stretch on the back nine, hitting two eagles and a birdie to offset another bogey. The Italian continues to impress, despite his young age:

The European Tour @EuropeanTour

Eventful back nine from Renato Paratore. Two eagles sees the Italian in the clubhouse at -2. #MadeiraIslandsOpen http://t.co/593sC7ykLm

In total, 82 players are separated by just six shots heading into Sunday's final round, and with the weather forecast hardly improving, we could be in for another wild day:

The European Tour @EuropeanTour

Due to tomorrow's bad weather forecast the tournament has been reduced to 36 holes. The cut (top 65 & ties) will be after 18 holes.

Tee times have yet to be confirmed, and with leader Hansen sitting out on Saturday, the Dane could find himself in an odd position, as the rest of the pack has gotten a good feel for how the soaked course plays.

Peter Whiteford put in a solid showing after losing his European Tour card because of a miserable second half to the 2014 season, and the Scot will be anxious to prove he belongs on tour and put in a strong showing on Sunday.

FUNCHAL, MADEIRA, PORTUGAL - MARCH 21:  Peter Lawrie of Ireland in action during the continuation of the first round of the Madeira Islands Open at Santo da Serra Golf Club in Santo da Serra on March 21, 2015 in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal.  (Photo by Ross
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

But the standings are tight, and the final round will ultimately belong to whichever player can control his nerves better and handle the difficult weather conditions.

Day 2 Recap

FUNCHAL, MADEIRA, PORTUGAL - MARCH 20:  Andrew Marshall of England in action during the first round of the Madeira Islands Open the at Santo da Serra Golf Club in Santo da Serra on March 20, 2015 in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Get
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

We finally got some play at the Madeira Open on Day 2 after an opening day washout, but the weather frustrated again before every player could finish their respective rounds, resulting in an early suspension.

The European Tour Twitter account confirmed that play was halted overnight, but they would be starting as planned tomorrow:

The European Tour @EuropeanTour

Play at the #MaderiaIslandsOpen has been suspended due to rain. Round 1 will resume tomorrow at 8am. http://t.co/ISG8LtPxM1

Joachim B. Hansen was the man who made the most of his time out on the course. The Dane managed to get back in an admirable round of four-under par. But despite shooting an impressive 68, there were no less than five players within one shot of Hansen when play was halted for the day.

Here’s the leaderboard following a shortened Day 2 and a closer look at how the action played out on another disappointing day in Portugal:

Madeira Islands Open Leaderboard
PositionPlayerOverallRound 1 Score
1Joachim B. Hansen-468
T2Andrew Marshall-369
T2Adrien Saddier-369
T2Jean-Baptiste Gonnet-369
T2Roope Kakko-369
T2Jeppe Huldahl-369
EuropeanTour.com

After Thursday’s play was wiped out by tumbling winds, those spectators who braved the conditions to get down to the Santo da Serra Golf Club were met with the prospect of another sizeable delay, with gusts still blowing mightily through the course. But after a 110-minute wait, the opening groups finally teed off.

As we can see here courtesy of the European Tour Twitter account, there was still a backdrop of thunderous-looking clouds as play eventually got started:

The European Tour @EuropeanTour

Grey skies but much calmer conditions at the #MadeiraIslandsOpen. Tee times delayed by 1hr 50mins. http://t.co/aD3w4pwt0M

It was Hansen who was able to make the most of the tough conditions once he got going. Shooting tee-to-green was always going to be very difficult with the wind still howling, meaning that the work on the green itself was going to be vital to players’ chances.

As we can see, putting is an area in which Hansen excelled and it was not surprise that he roared to the top of the leaderboard:

The European Tour @EuropeanTour

Did You Know: Our leader @JB_Hansen1 leads the European Tour in Putts Per GIR (1.63) and is 2nd in Putts/Round (26.5) http://t.co/XaqTdq2DWN

All things considered, it was a remarkable effort from Hansen. He didn’t bogey single hole amidst the treacherous wind and in the aftermath he admitted he felt in great shape out on course, per EuropeanTour.com:

I felt great out there and it’s a good start

I missed a short one on the 11th hole for three birdies in a row to start but I feel confident with my swing and I know where the ball is going - I just need to control it in the wind.

No bogeys was pretty impressive, I’d take that every day. I didn’t feel nervous out there and I just knew what to do. 

FUNCHAL, MADEIRA, PORTUGAL - MARCH 20:  Joachim B Hansen of Denmark on the 17th tee during the first found of the Madeira Islands Open the at Santo da Serra Golf Club in Santo da Serra on March 20, 2015 in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal.  (Photo by Ross Kinna
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

While this competition may not attract the biggest names in the golfing world, there is still a clutch of classy players on display. There was a familiar face caddying for one of the players too, a Champions League winner, no less:

The European Tour @EuropeanTour

It is of course former @LFC player, Vladimir Šmicer. Caddying for Adam Rajmont this week. http://t.co/9WWxPWE8BA

With the clouds looking increasingly ominous, you suspect Hansen was delighted to have gotten into the clubhouse with a solid score under his belt. The same goes for Adrien Saddier, Jean-Baptiste Gonnet and Andrew Marshall, who all finished up with decent rounds of 68.

Both Roope Kakko and Jeppe Huldahl are also poised to strike on three-under, but were halted mid-round on holes 14 and eight respectively. Hopefully the weather takes a turn for the better over the weekend, these players can catch up on their rounds and that we’re still treated to an enthralling climax on Sunday evening.

Day 1 Recap

The opening day was a wipe-out after strong winds scuppered any chances of play in Portugal.

The European Tour announced the news via its official Twitter account:

The European Tour @EuropeanTour

To clarify, play has been suspended for the day and the #MadeiraIslandsOpen will now be played over 54 holes (with a 36-hole cut).

Last year's Madeira Islands Open suffered from several days of poor weather conditions, resulting in a 36-hole tournament and a lot of confusion. Event organisers had higher hopes for this year, as last week saw nothing but clear skies and sunshine, but the stormy conditions returned on Thursday.

Balls were rolling all over the green, and the wind even managed to grab a short-lived lead on the leaderboard:

The European Tour @EuropeanTour

The wind has just holed a birdie putt at the 10th hole. #MadeiraIslandsOpen https://t.co/sWz4r4Z2aQ

Referee Mikael Eriksson spent most of the morning checking the wind speeds, but with no improvements in the weather, the decision to suspend play was quickly made. Tee times will remain unchanged on Friday, when the wind is expected to die down.

As reported by Europeantour.com, on-site meteorologist Guy Nestor believes the tournament should be able to get underway on Friday:

The situation is that we’ve got a strong low pressure system which is sitting off the coast of Portugal. That is creating a tight wind gradient over the Madeira Islands, so we’ve had winds consistently in the 20-30 miles per hour range with gusts above 35 miles per hour pretty much all day.

The highest gust we recorded was 47 miles per hour, early this morning, and as the afternoon went on we got more and more gusts above 40.

The forecast that I called for is for those winds to increase as we get to the mid- and late-afternoon and in to the evening hours. 

The good news is that the winds will die down as we get into Friday, it’ll still be windy but as we head through the day they should decrease, considerably as we head into the weekend

Unfortunately, it looks as if the wind will be replaced by rainclouds and even thunderstorms on Friday. Currently, the schedule calls for 54 holes, with the cutoff point coming after round 2.

FUNCHAL, MADEIRA, PORTUGAL - MARCH 19:  A pin flga blowing in the wind prior to the delayed first round of the Madeira Islands Open at the Santo da Serra Golf Club in Santo da Serra on March 19, 2015 in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

The Madeira Open is one of the first European stops of the season and is played on the fantastic Clube de Golf do Santo de Serra, a course located in mountainous terrain. As a result, wind usually is a factor, even when the weather isn't stormy.

Few top players traditionally take part in the Madeira Open, but this year's field features a number of excellent players, and the likes of Edouard Dubois, Joaoa Pedro Sousa and Chris Hanson will all like their chances of coming away with a win. Teen sensation Renato Paratore will also be playing in Madeira.

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