Hyundai Tournament of Champions’ first round wiped out

KAPALUA — The PGA Tour season didn’t start on Friday after all.

The first round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at the Kapalua Plantation Course was wiped out due to inclement weather, with intermittent rain that reached torrential levels and winds gusting to more than 40 mph. All of the scores posted were erased.

“We have decided to scrub this round, wipe it out completely,” tour rules and competition official Slugger White said shortly after 2 p.m.. following a delay of 77 minutes. “No shots count. We are going to start the first round tomorrow morning. We will go off two tees to-

morrow, try to play 36 holes, try to catch up.”

Webb Simpson was the leader at 3 under par through seven holes, and Jonas Blixt was the only other player in the red, at 1 under through five. Scott Stallings was 7 over through four holes.

Simpson reluctantly said the decision was the right one.

“It stinks for me,” he said. “I got off to a great start, but that’s the way it goes. I’m sure they made the decision that’s best for all of the guys. But the good news is, had a great start and playing well.”

The first round is scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m. Saturday with pairs going off of the first and 10th tees. No tee times were released for the second round.

Simpson said some luck was involved in his score.

“Honestly we timed a couple of the rains at the right time,” he said. “(Hole) 5, the par-5, at one point I was going to lay up and then the rain stopped and I hit through it on the green. So a couple fortunate breaks in that regard.

“But you know, we are just trying to keep the ball in play and in front of us. I was able to make a couple of putts and that’s what you have to do on a day like today.”

The forecast from tour meteorologist Wade Stettner has a 60 percent chance of rain Saturday, with winds of roughly 25-35 mph.

“I can honestly say the forecast isn’t real good, but maybe we will get lucky,” White said. “That’s the hope.”

The outlook for Sunday is winds of 20-30 mph and a 20 percent chance of rain. Monday’s forecast has a 30 percent chance of rain, accompanied by winds of 15-25 mph.

On Friday, the horn calling golfers off the course sounded at 12:46 p.m., soon after the end of a seven-minute delay.

The problem cited originally was that balls were not resting on the second green. One was reported to have rolled 15 feet after coming to a stop.

“Was it bad? Yeah, it was bad,” said White, who noted that gusts reached 42 mph.

Ricky Fowler, the first player off the tee at 10:35 a.m., was 3 over par through eight holes. Playing partner Jason Dufner was 1 over.

“It was pretty crazy,” Fowler said. “It came and it would roll in and back out, we saw some sun and then clouds of rain. We just had to wait some of it out, take what it gave you — it was very tough times out there.”

No player got through nine holes. The average driving distance on the 380-yard par-4 third hole was 220 yards.

Fowler said stopping the round was the right call.

“Yeah, it could have been probably sooner,” he said. “Definitely with the last little bit with the suspension back to resuming play, then the next suspension, with the up and down there, if it would have been prior to that it would have been great.

“But yeah, after the kind of strong winds that came through and the weather, felt like it was a smart decision.”

The last time a PGA Tour round began and was wiped out by weather was in 2005, in the second round of the Players Championship.

The only weather-related delay at the Plantation Course that former tournament chairman Gary Planos could recall came in 1995 — 2 1/2 hours due to rain at the Lincoln-Mercury International. Planos also said the 1988 Kirin Cup at the Bay Course had its Saturday round wiped out by weather.

The 20 players who finished at least one hole Friday were a total of 27 over par in 89 holes played. Two groups did not finish the first hole and three pairings did not tee off.

“Obviously Webb is probably the only one that may be a little bummed,” Fowler said. “He was obviously out there playing well and had control of his golf ball.”

Fowler and Dufner both double bogeyed the par-3 eighth.

“I felt like I was playing pretty well up until we had to hit in some crazy weather on eight and I ended up making double,” Fowler said. “Other than that, 1 over par felt like it was pretty good over seven holes.”

Fowler said being in the first group was tough.

“We didn’t want to hold guys up,” he said. “I hit a good drive on three and it went 215 yards. Other than that, for the most part, I told my caddie, ‘I really don’t even need any numbers today.’ It’s more looking at the shot and seeing what the weather is, and just grab a club, pick the flight and hit it. Numbers were kind of irrelevant at times.”