Tour caddies may have difficult time with 36 holes
KAPALUA, Hawaii – The PGA Tour has decided to postpone the start of the 2013 season one more day because of the high winds that have plagued the start of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions on Friday and now Saturday.
After Friday’s circus, which ended in balls rolling on and off the greens at Kapalua's Plantation Course, forcing the PGA Tour to wipe out the partially completed first round and postpone play until Saturday, the conditions got no better a day later and the round never started.
“We still got gusts of 40 mphs out there, and we got balls rolling all over the greens,” Tour official Slugger White said in announcing the cancellation of Saturday’s play and the plan to shorten the event from 72 to 54 holes.
The plan now is to play 36 holes Sunday and 18 holes Monday. With the forecast calling for 15-25-mph winds, with gusts up to 30, and little less moisture, golf is likely. The next problem could be stamina - not so much for the players but their caddies.
“Eighteen feels like 27,” veteran caddie Jimmy Johnson said of going 36 holes Sunday. “There might be some guys that can’t make it, including myself. It’s an unknown territory.”
Johnson would rather go 27 holes Sunday and Monday, but White said it was not a consideration to go 27-27, because they would not want to stop play Sunday if the weather cooperates.
Johnson had a different view when asked if 27 holes a day was better for the caddies.
“Yes, for the caddies, but I don’t think they run the Tour for the caddies.”
Another long-time caddie, Frank Williams, agreed with Johnson that 36 holes in one day could be problematic.
“I’m not so sure we can do it,” Williams said, “especially with all the raingear and the extra towels and stuff. I’m just not sure we can do it.”
Williams, who caddies for Scott Stallings, added that if the weather improves, then at least they could drop some of the raingear, towels and other weather-related equipment from the bag. Ultimately, though, it's still 36 holes.
Chris Jones, Mark Wilson’s caddie, also is concerned about Sunday’s 36-hole marathon and wondered aloud why the PGA Tour couldn’t just allow the caddie to ride and the players to walk.
Players and caddies are scheduled to be shuttled on six of the first 10 holes of the hilly Plantation Course, and White was looking at providing additional relief.
“We’re thinking about adding a couple more shuttles out there for them," White said. "We haven’t put that to rest yet. We will do what we can for them. There's not many places that it helps, to be quite honest. . . . We would probably help at 10 and probably help at maybe at 12. Other than that, everything is kind of a short walk and there's no place to put any shuttles that would help tremendously."
Ted Scott, Bubba Watson’s caddie, has gone 36 holes in a day – at The International at hilly Castle Pines in Colorado. “It didn’t kill me,” he said. But Scott seems to be the exception.
If everything goes according to plan and Mother Nature cooperates, the 2013 PGA Tour season will start at 7:10 a.m. local time Sunday. Though few things are certain this week in Maui, Williams is sure of one thing.
“I think we're just in for a long day.”