Hyundai Tournament of Champions: Severe weather cancels 1st round

Christian Petersen

Rain washes out first round of PGA Tour’s 2013 season-opener.

Talk about your slow rounds. Heavy rain and winds stalled play to a crawl, then a complete halt, and finally a cancellation, as officials wiped out Friday’s first round of the season-opening Tournament of Champions after a second weather delay.

Despite most of the field of 30 golfers having completed at least one hole, tour officials called it a day and hoped to start over on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET (7:30 a.m. Hawaii time), with players going off the first and 10th tees. The aim is to finish 36 holes on Saturday, but the weather may not cooperate.

“Our forecast is not favorable,” said official Slugger White after the tour announced the decision at 7:15 p.m. ET. “But we’re going to try.”

Such a move is not unprecedented, as White noted the tour had cancelled incomplete rounds at least three times in the past.

“We started in really, really unplayable conditions got worse as the day went on,” White said. “We went from 25 mile-an-hour winds gusting up to 42...and I had one player say [he] couldn’t even see to putt....We tried to play and Mother Nature wouldn’t help us.”

Officials shut the proceedings down at 12:36 p.m. local time -- little more than two hours after the leaders kicked off the ‘13 PGA Tour season at Kapalua.

"We're doing the best we can," PGA Tour executive vice president Andy Pazder told the Golf Channel. "We're trying to soldier through it and do the best we can.

"It's tough for everybody."

No kidding. With players incredulous as they ran golf balls up to greens and watched the winds blow them some 15 feet off the putting surfaces, there were almost as many double bogeys (nine) as birdies (12) when officials stopped play for the second time within two and a half hours.

"It’s basically unplayable out there,” tour official Jon Brendle told the Golf Channel. "The second green is right on a ridge, like 10 and 13, and the wind just shears over there. The ball would not come to rest. It was moving anywhere from five to 15 feet.”

The biggest fan of the decision was Scott Stallings, who, with a par, bogey, quadruple-bogey, and double-bogey on the scorecard, was 7-over when the horn blew.

“Absolutely,” Stallings told Golf Channel about whether the decision to wipe the slate clean was the correct one. “Obviously, I was thrilled. It was a tough situation for the tour to be in; how do you say when is too much?”

Stallings teed off in sunshine and played the rest of his abbreviated round in rain gear, with umbrellas at full staff.

“It was just really hard. I hit some bad shots and got some bad breaks and really wasn’t playing very good and it was really pretty miserable out there,” he said “But for them to cancel the round, I was obviously the biggest benefactor of the whole deal...but I’d like to know how Webb [Simpson] was 3-under through that. That was unbelievable playing.”

For sure it was, and the reigning U.S. Open champ, who led the soggy field, had a slightly different opinion of the decision to scratch out the scores.

“It stinks for me,” Simpson said. “I got off to a great start but that’s the way it goes. The good news is that I’m playing well and...I’ll just try to carry that confidence into tomorrow.”

No doubt, Bubba Watson and Brandt Snedeker, who never teed off, were cool with the way things played out. Snedeker recounted an amusing session on the practice range, when he said he hit an 8-iron that “went about 50 yards.

“I think I could have caught it if I got a good head start on it,” said the FedEx Cup champion.

After watching on TV from the cozy confines of the clubhouse as his colleagues struggled to stay upright and hit drives more than 200 yards, Watson offered the most concise observation of what had been a crazy day.

“Right now it’s goofy ball,” said the Masters winner. “It’s not real golf; this is goofy golf.”

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