PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA (AP) — The Players Championship organizers hoped for four hours of play on Friday before the worst of the weather arrived, and that’s exactly what happened.
Even so, it won’t be enough to keep the Tour’s marquee event on track for a Sunday conclusion.
After trudging through a heavy rain throughout the morning, players were once again escorted off TPC Sawgrass as the waterlogged course became impassable. Water collected in the fairways and on the greens after over three inches of rain fell in the previous 36 hours, forcing play to be suspended at 11:15 a.m. ET. Though officials initially left the door open for a return, the game was eventually called off four hours later.
“The golf course has just reached saturation point,” PGA Tour chief referee Gary Young said, “and sadly the weather conditions are not providing us with any reprieve.”
This Players has devolved into a lengthy, sloppy slog, with its first Monday completion since 2005.
47 players have yet to complete their opening rounds two days into the Tour’s premier event, including pre-tournament favorites such as world No. 2 Collin Morikawa, defending champion Justin Thomas, and 2019 winner Rory McIlroy.
With more bad weather on the way, play is anticipated to start no earlier than 11 a.m. Saturday — but even that could change.
The front that is rolling across the southeast will batter the area between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Saturday, with intense storms and probable wind gusts surpassing 60 mph, according to Tour meteorologist Wade Stettner. After the storm cells pass, officials predict temperatures to drop into the 50s, with steady winds of 25 mph – but no additional precipitation until Monday.
With the latest postponement, Young said the goal finish time is now around 6:30 p.m. Monday, allowing for re-pairing between the third and final rounds as well as a three-hole aggregate playoff if necessary. Since 2013, there hasn’t been a Tuesday finish on Tour.
“We’re extremely sure that we’ll be able to finish this championship on Monday evening,” Young added.
On Friday, the clubhouse leaders didn’t even hit a shot.
Tommy Fleetwood and Tom Hoge ended their matched rounds of 6-under 66 in the fading sunshine Thursday, after weathering a four-and-a-half-hour delay, and could wait until Sunday morning to begin their second rounds, with more ugliness forecast. Brice Garnett, who holed out for eagle on the par-4 fourth hole before the horn sounded, has joined them at the top for the time being.
“We knew it was going to be a tough day,” Garnett said. “With all the rain, we were just trying to stay in the moment and not get ahead of ourselves.” It’s one of those situations where you want you could keep playing to maintain the momentum, but the course is unplayable. So we’re pleased to come in and recuperate a little bit before heading back out to assault No. 5.”
With a few holes left to play, Daniel Berger (through 16 holes) has advanced to 5 under par, while Dustin Johnson and Scottie Scheffler are both 4 under par.
Young indicated around midday Friday that players would stay on the property if the weather improved, but by mid-afternoon, it was clear that the rain would not stop.
They’d be wise to get some rest because the next two and a half days could be nonstop golf.
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