NORTON, Mass. – OK, that didn’t work, so let’s try this.
That pretty much sums up PGA Tour strategy in its losing match against Mother Nature here at the Deutsche Bank Championship. With rain having come in quicker and heavier than anticipated, whatever play had taken place Sunday morning was cancelled and a new game plan was adopted for the third round.
Now, players will go off in threesomes from the first and 10th tees, beginning at noon Sunday.
That means the leaders – Sergio Garcia at 13 under; Roberto Castro and Henrik Stenson at 12 under – will draw the 2 p.m. starting time. (Tiger Woods, at 7 under, will go off at 12:40 p.m. alongside Hunter Mahan and Kevin Stadler. Phil Mickelson, sitting at 8 under, has a 1:10 p.m. time with Brian Gay and Nicholas Thompson.)
“Hopefully (the weather) will get better,” said Mark Russell, the PGA Tour’s vice-president of rules and competition.
Left unsaid – and no one wants to really go there right now – is what happens if the weather continues to disrupt play because this championship already is scheduled as a Monday finish. Stretching into Tuesday is a possibility, but first things first, said Russell.
The split tees and revamped starting times “gives us the best chance of finishing this round today,” he said. “If we had stayed with one tee, we would have been in big trouble.”
Play had started on time, at 7:35 a.m., with Zach Johnson and Stuart Appleby having reached the sixth hole. Certainly, Johnson can’t be disappointed with the decision to wipe out play, because he was 2 over on his round, 1 over for the championship. Webb Simpson might think differently, given that he was 2 under on his round through four holes, but it’s hard to dispute that the Tour rolled the dice and lost and thus did the only thing it could do.
“It’s an unfortunate situation,” Russell said. “(But) it got a lot worse than we expected.”