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US PGA Tour’s season opener delayed again

Strong winds reduce Hawaii event to a likely 54 holes and possible Monday finish

Gulf News

Kapalua, Hawaii: The PGA Tour’s season-opening Tournament of Champions was postponed for the second straight day because of strong winds on Saturday, reducing the event to a likely 54 holes at best and a Monday finish.

“We tried as best we could,” said Slugger White, the tour’s Vice-President of Rules and Competition. Play was delayed three times at the Plantation Course at Kapalua before it was called for the day.

The season now starts on Sunday — that’s when most tournaments end — with hopes of playing 36 holes, followed by an 18-hole finish on 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 30cm to beat Tom Lehman in a playoff when a par 3 at La Costa was the only hole that could be used because of so much rain.

Players arrived in darkness 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 Sunday and Monday, with strong wind in the morning gradually abating through the day. Even so, the Plantation Course is a long walk with severe changes in elevation, which makes a 36-hole day tough on the caddies. White said they were considering offering more shuttle rides on portions of the course to help.

“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 (65 km\h) 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.”

There is still a possibility of 72 holes and a Tuesday finish, but Andy Pazder, chief of operations for the tour, said that was unlikely because it would impact preparations for next week’s Sony Open and because there would be no television coverage of Tuesday’s play.