[PHOTO: Tristan Jones/LET]

Australian Jess Whitting is an unofficial Ladies European Tour winner after the final round of the Australian Women’s Classic was abandoned at Bonville Golf Resort.

A wild storm that lashed the Coffs Coast on Saturday night dumped a further 80 millimetres of rain on the Bonville course, taking the total tally of rainfall to more than 200mm in the past 72 hours.

Rivers of water washed across fairways on Sunday morning, access paths underwater making the course not only unplayable, but inaccessible in numerous areas.

After an inspection of the course and lengthy deliberation, officials from the Ladies European Tour, WPGA Tour of Australasia and Golf NSW made the decision to cancel the final round and declare joint winners, players officially informed of the decision at 11:45am AEST.

Although winner’s status and LET points are not awarded for a one-round event, the records will show Whitting, Denmark’s Nicole Broch Estrup and Taipei’s Peiying Tsai as joint winners after their rounds of six-under 66 on Saturday.

Emotions were bittersweet for Whitting, who is still seeking to play her way onto a major world tour.

“It’s hard,” said the 26-year-old from Perth. “I wanted a chance to go out there and play and prove myself. But then also, this is kind of a great outcome too, because who knows, I could have gone out there and not played well and moved further down the ranks.

“I’m sure if I had warmed up and sat on the first tee and that whole 18 holes would’ve been full of nerves, we will never know. It was out of my control, but I’m pretty excited. It’s a pretty cool thing to write down on the résumé.”

Saturday night’s thunderstorm was such that Broch Estrup was woken from her sleep, the heaviness of the rain sowing doubt immediately that she would get to tee it up on Sunday.

Tied for sixth at the Women’s NSW Open a week ago, Broch Estrup was philosophical about her first LET win in nine years.

“I had a nice message from Thomas [Bjorn] when I woke go up this morning, so I really wanted to go play golf today, so it’s a shame,” she said.

“I’ve never seen anything like it, really. The pictures and the videos from the girls that were here this morning, with the river that was going through 18 and eight. It’s ridiculous and just a shame to the tournament, really.

“I picked Australia over South Africa to come here just because I love Australia so much, so it’s just a shame to see this event really wash away, I guess you can say.”

In his address to the players, Bonville Golf Resort general manager, Brad Daymond thanked them for their patience in extraordinary circumstances.

“Obviously we are disappointed not to be able to proceed with the final round, but I don’t know if there is a golf course on the east coast right now that could have dealt with that much rain,” Daymond said.

“It is testament to how well this golf course drains that we were able to complete 18 holes yesterday; we just didn’t expect to receive the amount of rain that fell overnight.

“There is an integrity to professional competition that we must respect and there was no opportunity for our tireless ground staff to prepare the course to the standard required.”

As a show of goodwill, tournament promoters Golf NSW will issue a $500 payment to every player in the field to assist in travel costs incurred during the week.

“This is not how anyone wants to finish a tournament, but we felt that it would be unfair on players to hold them for an extra day with no guarantee of play being able to go ahead,” said Golf NSW chief operating officer, Graeme Phillipson.

“The staff at Bonville have done everything possible to stage a tournament for us this week but these are situations even out of their control.

“We have thoroughly enjoyed our past two weeks working with the LET and WPGA and hope to see the players and officials who have visited Australia this past fortnight back again next year.”

“We understand that some players will be disappointed,” added WPGA Tour of Australasia chief executive, Karen Lunn. “After inspecting the course it became clear that we could not complete 18 holes today and that there were no guarantees of finishing tomorrow.

“The Bonville greens staff have done everything they can to get our players on course but the volume of rain was just too much.”

The WPGA Tour of Australasia now moves on to Walcha for the World Sand Greens Championship at Walcha Golf Club starting on Wednesday.