Hyundai Tournament of Champions: Gone with the wind

Christian Petersen

Weather forces a third cancellation to the start of the Hyundai Tourney of Champs.

Stop us if you’ve heard this one, but PGA Tour officials once again cancelled play Sunday at Kapalua, wiped out the few scores that golfers had posted, and hoped they could get 54 holes in on Monday and Tuesday.

“We tried,” Slugger White, the tour’s VP of rules and competition, told Golf Channel about the third straight day in which officials delayed play for hours, sent the boys out to give it a go, and then called them back when winds nearing 50 mph blew balls off tees and greens and golf caps back to the mainland.

Now, one of only two events on the tour calendar with a scheduled Monday finish will try to start the 2013 season on Monday with 36 holes and get 18 more in on Tuesday to make it an official event. The last time the tour closed out a contest on Tuesday was the Booz Allen Classic in 2006.

Little more than an hour after the third attempt to kick the season into gear, officials blew the horn and suspended play on the Plantation Course at Kapalua. Rickie Fowler, who’s tried to get the season started three times, will get another chance on Monday, which he humorously observed on Twitter.

By the time organizers called a halt, all but six players were on the course -- though some had difficulty just getting their balls to stay on the tee. With golfers going off the first and 10th tees, Fowler and Jason Dufner had the honors on No. 1. A hatless Matt Kuchar, however, spent several minutes watching the ball blow his ball off the tee twice, while Ian Poulter backed off six times before attempting a 10-foot birdie putt on the 11th.

Poulter, who worried before he put a ball in play about sustaining an injury from swinging in the fierce wind, was having a time. He took another millennium to hit a shot on the 13th and couldn’t believe his 4-iron traveled under 140 yards, but he pretty much predicted such goofiness would ensue.

“This is going to be crazy golf,” Poulter said before play began. “You’re just going to have to suck it up....Unfortunately, you’re going to be punished out there a few times and may the best man win....It’s a desperate call [to start the round].”

Indeed it was. Scott Stallings walked up to tap in a putt on the 12th and before he could take his stance, watched the wind blow it about eight feet.

Charlie Beljan started his day by losing two balls before he ever got to the fairway.

“I never hit hooks and off the first tee I hit two of them into the garbage and then after I’d lost one and I’d found another one, I punched it out on the fairway," he said. "From 102 yards I hit an 8-iron, which I normally hit about 170, 175 on a normal day.”

This was anything but a normal day, as the four-hour delay before the abbreviated -- and then obliterated -- round began would indicate.

“We were on the edge when we tried at 11:10 and we were probably okay for about 30 to 45 minutes and then the bottom fell out,” said White. “We were having gusts out there about 48 miles an hour, balls blowing off the green. We couldn’t even get a ball to come to rest on the 12th green when we stopped.

“So it’s unfortunate but, again, it just started off bad and got worse.”

And that about sums up the entire week in Maui, which will continue on Monday and -- golf goddesses willing -- end on Tuesday.

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