Hyundai Tournament of Champions: Nature claims a round
KAPALUA – One more day, and several more times, it was hurry up and wait for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at the Kapalua Plantation Course.
The first round of the tournament was delayed three times by weather on Saturday before being postponed to today – first shots are slated for 7:10 a.m. off of the first and 10th tees. That was after action was called off Friday, when competition was to have originally begun, and the holes that were played ultimately did not count.
Winds gusting more than 40 mph have been the main problem.
The event has been trimmed to 54 holes, with plans for 36 today and 18 on Monday, though a Tuesday finish is possible.
None of Maui’s previous 14 PGA Tour events had been forced to wipe out a round. Before Friday, no round had started and then been scrubbed on tour since 2005 at the Players Championship.
“Yeah, obviously a difficult situation,” said Hunter Mahan, one of 30 winners from 2012 in the field. “But you know, with these gusts in excess of 40 miles an hour, the ball is basically just moving on its own with the wind and a certain few holes being exposed as they are and the slope on the greens and everything, it would be difficult for some of the balls to stay on the green at a certain time.
“And that doesn’t make for good golf for anybody to be out there right now.”
On weather.com, the forecast for today has a 20 percent chance of rain – Slugger White, the PGA Tour’s vice president of rules and competition, called it “more like pineapple showers than these downpours that we have had” – with winds of 21 mph.
“You’re going to just play the same,” Mahan said. “It’s going to be difficult no matter what. The wind is going to be up and it’s going to be gusty, so you have to be patient and pick your spots to be aggressive at. But I don’t think it really changes anyone’s kind of frame of mind right now.”
The last time the tournament was reduced to 54 holes was 1997, when it was played at La Costa Country Club in Carlsbad, Calif.
“The guy that kind of gets hot tomorrow is going to be (at) a big advantage because you have 36 holes out here tomorrow where if you get on a roll, you can make a lot of birdies and hopefully get things going in the right direction,” said 2012 FedEx Cup champion Brandt Snedeker. “So tomorrow is going to be a really big day.”
Dustin Johnson, who is in the field, has won the last two tour events shortened to 54 holes – The Barclays in 2011, and the 2009 Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Several players spent time on the practice range Saturday, and were watching their shots fly a lot differently than they normally would.
A volunteer tent was uprooted overnight, and blew on top of an adjoining tent. Nearby, a light tower was knocked over by the wind and volunteers who arrived before dawn had to use their car headlights while the tent was replaced.
The parking lot near the spectator village was closed, and rocks were trucked in to battle the muddy conditions.
Snedeker expects the wind will be a factor again today.
“Just going to affect the way you play the golf course a little bit,” he said. “The direction can change – I doubt it will, but it can. And you try to get out there and just take advantage of the holes that are downwind, kind of get by the holes that are into the wind and really plot your course that way.”
The decision to call off the round was made just before 10:30 a.m., after play had been postponed each hour from the original 7:30 start.
Snedeker agreed with the move, although clear skies returned in the early afternoon and the winds receded.
“They did do the right thing,” he said. “It’s just a little too windy out there for us to play. If the course wasn’t so exposed, it wouldn’t be a problem, but you have a lot of greens exposed to 40-mile-an-hour wind gusts.
“It’s tough to make that call. We had to try to play today if we wanted to get 72 holes in. Unfortunately a short day, but hopefully we get out there tomorrow and get some golf.”
White said the main problems came on the back nine Saturday. The trouble on Friday was at the second green.
“Went out there this morning about 6:30,” he said. “I dropped a ball on the 10th green, on the back of the green just dropped it and (it) rolled off, 20 yards off the front of the green. We did have balls that were going uphill on 10 a foot and a half.”
White added that a Tuesday finish “is not out of the realm as yet, but let’s get through (today) first.”
Caddies who face a 36-hole loop around the undulating 7,411-yard Plantation layout may get some relief today.
“We are thinking about adding a couple more shuttles out there for them,” White said. “We haven’t put that to rest yet, but probably will do that. So, we’ll do the best we can for them.”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com