The first three months of the 2013 PGA Tour have been continually disrupted by weather delays, and stormy Sunday conditions at the Arnold Palmer Invitational forced another Monday finish this week at Bay Hill. The Monday final round is never an ideal situation for the TV networks, especially when Tiger Woods is involved and is closing in on the No. 1 ranking in the world.
Earlier this year, Woods was forced to finish his first PGA Tour event on a Monday at Torrey Pines. And the day proved little more than an afternoon stroll into the clubhouse for his eighth career win at that course. He starts Monday at Bay Hill with a three-shot lead and 16 holes to play -- prime position for his eighth career win at the API, matching the record of Sam Snead for most victories at a single event.
Tiger started Sunday with a two-shot lead and managed to extend it to three over his playing partner Rickie Fowler and Keegan Bradley after just two holes. But then the weather got goofy, with winds blowing TV towers across the course and rain creating streams with fish in the middle of the fairway.
The 54-hole lead is not a position with which Tiger is unfamiliar, and his record in this scenario is unassailable. He haswon 50 of the 54 events in which he's held the lead after the third round, and on a course that he has owned throughout his career, it seems that Monday will be but a formality.
It was here where Woods snapped his winless drought last year, running away from Graeme McDowell and enjoying a multi-shot cushion throughout the final round. Tiger has won four more times since then, but this week has been a different path to the top of the leaderboard compared to his win at Doral just two weeks ago. In Miami and at Torrey, he had all facets of his game working and was in complete control. Doral was a dominant performance from tee to green. This week, he's done all his work with the putter, making up for inaccuracy off the tee (at the bottom of driving stats) and mediocre GIR numbers. Tiger has repeatedly drained clutch par putts, and rolled in several birdies to halt and stop the occasional bogey streak. That work with the putter, and Justin Rose's Saturday tumble, quickly pushed Woods to the top of the leaderboard on a course where it would be shocking to see him cough it up on Monday.
But some of the names in pursuit, most notably Fowler and Bradley, are certainly capable of pushing Woods. And if Tiger's putter goes cold and the wildness off the tee continues, perhaps things could get interesting.
The Monday finish means that most golf fans, and casual spectators tuning in to see Tiger get back to No. 1, will have to take in the final round by livestream at the office. The restart is set for 10 a.m. ET, and Golf Channel will carry TV coverage from start to finish, which should come around 2 p.m. ET.
Golf Channel will also have their livestream coverage starting at 10 a.m. ET to go along with the TV broadcast, and Brian Wacker notes that PGATour.com will carry its Live@ coverage beginning at 10 a.m. as well. The full schedule and broadcast details:
2013 Arnold Palmer Invitational Final Round
Time: Monday, March 25 restart at 10 a.m. ET
TV: Golf Channel -- 10 a.m. ET to finish (est. around 2 p.m. ET)
Livestream: GolfChannel.com and PGATour @Live
Radio: PGA Tour SiriusXM
It seems that only a driving rainstorm and tornado warnings were going to stop Tiger's march to No. 1 on Sunday, and Monday morning should bring the same feeling at Bay Hill. But even if it's like the Monday finish at Torrey -- a no-contest walk in to the clubhouse -- the interest level will be as high as it gets as the game's biggest star goes for No. 1 in his final appearance before The Masters.