KAPALUA, Hawaii – For those who think the PGA Tour season never ends, here’s a new twist: This one can’t get started.
The 30-player, season-opening Tournament of Champions was postponed for the second day because of wind gusts that topped 40 mph and made it impossible to play golf. Unlike the previous day when 24 players managed to tee off, no one hit a shot Saturday on the Plantation Course at Kapalua, Maui.
“We tried as best we could,” said Slugger White, the tour’s vice president of rules and competition. Play was delayed three times before it was called off.
The season now starts today — while most tournaments end on Sunday — with hopes of playing 36 holes, followed by an 18-hole finish Monday.
It will be the first time the Tournament of Champions is reduced to 54 holes since 1997, when Tiger Woods hit a 7-iron to a foot to beat Tom Lehman in a playoff when a par 3 at La Costa in Southern California was the only hole that could be used because of so much rain.
Players arrived in darkness Saturday morning and never got farther than the practice range. The wind has been relentless for two days, and it was clear early on there would be trouble. The back nine of the Plantation Course is higher up the mountain and more exposed. White and the rules officials found that golf balls kept moving on the 10th, 11th and 13th holes.
“On the 10th hole, we dropped a ball on the back of the green and it rolled 20 yards off the front,” White said.
He said the wind caused another ball to roll uphill.
The forecast is slightly better for today and Monday, with strong wind in the morning gradually abating through the day. Even so, the Plantation Course is a long walk with extreme changes in elevation, which figures to be brutal on the caddies.
“It’s just a little too windy out there for us to play,” Brandt Snedeker said. “If the course wasn’t so exposed, it wouldn’t be a problem. But you have a lot of greens exposed to 40 mph wind gusts. It’s tough to make that call. They did the right thing. We had to try to play today if we wanted to try to get 72 holes in.”
The PGA Tour has weather guidelines with an emphasis on playing 72 holes, even going a fifth day if the forecast is favorable.
But this is different.
The tour opted last year for a Monday finish to stay away from NFL playoffs, and finish before the BCS championship game. The Sony Open in Honolulu starts on Thursday, and it’s no small task to get the TV and other equipment to another island (Oahu).