Hyundai TOC scraps play for second straight day
KAPALUA, Hawaii – It was perfect for some Judy Garland music. A little “Somewhere, over the rainbow . . ." would have gone beautifully with the spectacular spectrum of color that stretched over the ocean and served as a wondrous image as you stood on the first tee Saturday morning at the Plantation Course.
It should have been a majestic view, but not even the power of nature could stir the emotions. Depression had settled in. For a second straight day, ferocious winds had forced PGA Tour officials to scrap play in the season-opener, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
Persistent gusts up to 40-50 mph made for havoc out on the most exposed holes at the Plantation Course, those that are early on the back nine.
“We couldn’t keep balls on the green,” said Slugger White, vice president of rules and competition for the PGA Tour. He confirmed that in some cases, balls on the 10th green were moving in the wind, even uphill.
Just one day earlier, play in the first round was halted after just two hours when balls were being blown wildly on putting surfaces. And that was the front nine; the back nine is where holes are really exposed to the Trade Winds that have kicked up this week and brought in a lengthy stretch of miserable weather. It has rained almost non-stop since Tuesday in this corner of paradise. Though that has made for great discomfort, it’s the powerful wind that has kept this tournament from officially starting.
So, once again, PGA Tour officials were forced to draw up another play. It calls for an attempt at 36 holes Sunday, players going off in twosomes from two tees at 7:10 a.m. local time, and then an 18-hole finale Monday. The forecast calls for continued wind Sunday, although it’s predicted to be just 15-to-25 mph, with gusts up to 30. In other words, better, but not by much, and when the decision was delivered to players, they sat solemnly in the lunch room, most of them bored and fidgety, all of them itching to play.
But none disagreed with the decision.
“It’s tough to make the call, but they did the right thing,” said Brandt Snedeker. “Unfortunately, a short day. But hopefully we’ll get out tomorrow and get some golf.”
Having spent a Friday and most of Saturday morning in stop-and-go mode, players, caddies, officials, volunteers and fans were all searching for enthusiasm. What, exactly, is keeping everyone busy?
“I’m good at doing nothing,” said Scott Piercy.
It probably has come in hand, at least during the past two days, when players have been kept at the course in hopes that conditions would lessen and allow for play. And to their credit, they’ve been ready to go; Rickie Fowler and Keegan Bradley, for instance, warmed up three different times Saturday morning, because the original starting time was 7:30, then it became 8:30, then 9:30, and then at 10:30 the chaps were told that play was off for the day.
The hardest part?
“Not knowing what’s going to happen,” Bradley said. “But it’s not bad. We’ll be ready.”
Players seemed on board with the decision to play 54 holes, probably because they were educated to the logistics of spilling into Tuesday: The massive chore of breaking down TV towers, JumboTrons, expensive cameras, wires, cables, and all that goes into this television production has to begin Monday afternoon so that the five or six trucks can make a freighter late that night and be shipped to Oahu for next week’s Sony Open.
“I think it’s better to finish Monday, if they can, so everybody can stay on the same schedule,” Bradley said.
White confirmed that any thought of scheduling play into Tuesday to get in 72 holes was scrapped, but clearly they will use that day if they have to finish 54.
“(But) let’s get through tomorrow first and then we’ll worry about Tuesday,” White said.
To say it’s been a Hyundai Tournament of Champions without precedence is an understatement. If there's ever a given with this tournament opener, it’s the weather; you simply know it’s going to be beautiful and provide spectacles you see nowhere else.
In a way, the wonders have continued this year – but with a different complexion. Players have battled wind and rain here at the Plantation Course, high up in a hill overlooking the ocean, and driven down to their hotel at Kapalua Resort where the rain has been relentless. “We are in such a cool place, and we can’t really do much,” Hunter Mahan said.
Unless, of course, they hit the road and head to another corner of the island. Players related stories of their family members going up to Wailea 90 minutes away and even to Lahaina 25 minutes down the road and getting a good share of legendary Hawaii sun.
“It’s strange,” Mahan said.
It’s also difficult for players to get into any sort of rhythm. After sitting in the lunch room for several hours Saturday morning, they received official word that there would be no golf on this day. Most of them scurried to connect with their caddies and head to the range . . . only to be greeted by a squall that brought with it a sweeping rain.
“It’s difficult to figure out if you want to go hit balls right now or wait till later or what you want to do,” Mahan said.
Piercy shrugged. He glanced at his watch, saw that it was only 10:40, and said, “I can go have a second breakfast.”
Meanwhile, Steve “Pepsi” Hale was making plans to keep a 12:40 tee time on the Kapalua Resort’s Bay Course. His man, Bradley, had hit balls three different times Saturday morning, so their work was done. It was play time for Hale, though not for Bradley.
“I’m going to go watch football. It’s time to rest,” Bradley said. “It’s going to be a long couple of days.”
At least, everyone is hoping they will be long days.