PGA Tour officials finally gave in to Mother Nature, again, and canceled, again, the opening round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and the 2013 season. Fingers crossed, they’ll give it a go for 36 holes on Sunday and 18 on Monday to wrap up a disappointing 54-hole event.
For a tourney with a dubious future, the two-day (and counting) delay to the start of the Tournament of Champions was an ominous sign. Foul weather forced PGA Tour officials to cancel Friday’s partially started first round and reschedule the opening of the 2013 season for Saturday -- except the climate Goddesses had other plans.
After several announcements that play would start an hour later than planned on Saturday, then two hours, and three and, finally, not at all, tour officials declared they had cut the event to 54 holes. Now, the 30 players gathered for the winners-only tourney are slated to play emergency golf on Sunday and another round on Monday, the competition's regularly scheduled finish.
Looks like Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, and the many other big names skipping the tour’s inaugural contest were wise to stay away from Maui, which has been anything but Paradise over the last couple of days. With heavy downpours and winds gusting to more than 40 miles per hour, it’s certainly been more like Paradise Lost for the short-lived first-round leader Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson and the other reigning titleholders who descended on Hawaii earlier this week.
However the tournament ends up, this has to be about the worst-case scenario anyone involved with the festivities could have imagined. With contract talks between officials from the tour and title sponsor, Hyundai, still unresolved, and the big names taking a pass, at least organizers always had the glorious Hawaiian sunshine, blue skies, and aqua waters to show off.
Except, the weather has so far refused to cooperate in what could be the final Tournament of Champions, an event that has kicked off every tour season since 1953. Even Hyundai’s VP of marketing, Steve Shannon, who has said he remained “bullish” about a contract extension beyond this year, had to be feeling a bit blue as he gazed out at the roiling seas and gloomy landscape.
And Watson, as positive an ambassador for golf in Hawaii as anyone (“Ride in a golf cart in pro‑ams and practice rounds wearing shorts,” he told reporters earlier this week), understood even before the weather woes why players chose not to make the trip from the mainland.
“The schedules are playing later, end of November, end of December. And now with the new [wrap-around] system coming up, it really throws a wrench in everything,” he said. “It's just a tough one. There's tournaments all throughout the year that people miss. So how do you get everybody at every tournament?
“We just can't do it,” Watson noted. “Now we are adding tournaments, so it makes it even tougher.”
And that was before the washouts. No doubt, Tiger, Rory, et al, were taking notes.