Inclement weather has affected the PGA Tour almost every single week in the 2013 season, and that trend continued at the Players Championship. A couple different lines of thunderstorms moved into the Ponte Vedra Beach area late in the afternoon, interrupting play for the final groups still out on the course and pushing the conclusion of the third round to a Sunday morning restart at 7 a.m. ET
The rain had pounded TPC Sawgrass prior to the tournament, dumping more than 10 inches of water just before the game's fifth major was scheduled to tee off. At one point, the island green at No. 17 was under water just days before the start. Luckily for the Tour, which has dealt with rain, snow, wind, and lightning so far this year, the first two days, with more cumbersome and full 145 players in the field, went off without delay. Saturday's weather stoppage should not affect play too much, unless more inclement weather blankets the area and forces yet another Monday finish with Tiger Woods involved.
The first delay hit just after 4 p.m. ET and the players were carted off to the clubhouse, a harbinger of a lengthy stoppage. It was nearly two hours before the golfers got back out on the course, and the final pairing of Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods had completed just six holes. Beginning around 7 p.m. ET, about an hour after the restart, another line of thunderstorms moved into the area. Play was called before 8 p.m., not because of the threat of lightning, but rather because the clouds were so heavy that officials decided to call it due to darkness. Garcia and Woods were through 14 holes.
There are eight players in total still out on the course, including current leader David Lingmerth. The relatively unknown Swede has a two-shot lead over Woods, Garcia, and Henrik Stenson. But he still has the extremely difficult 18th hole in front of him, where a bogey is always lurking.
Tiger and Sergio are actually in the fairway at No. 15, choosing not to finish the hole after the second horn sounded. Officials gave the players the option to play out, and some, such as Stenson, opted to finish up their current hole. Woods and Garcia marked their balls and then promptly went to the clubhouse to indirectly exchange barbs.
They will be part of the 7 a.m. restart, and should be done by 8 a.m. with just three full holes left. Because almost the entire field has completed their round, and the leaders are deep into the back nine, the Tour will re-pair the players instead of sending them out in rolling fashion to get everyone in on time Sunday night. Those new tee times and groups should come out as soon as the final third round group finishes, and the first players out should tee off shortly after 8 a.m. ET.
While the weather interrupted any drama on the course, the war of words in the press between Tiger and Sergio will ensure those early AM holes are must-watch. Tiger confirmed that he know about Garcia's initial comments over the controversy at No. 2 before they went back out, and he came in after the second delay to tell the press that it wasn't surprising to find Sergio complaining about something. He also said, with a wry smile, that there wasn't a whole lot of talking between the two before the dust-up later in the round.
It's all an incredibly exciting, by golf standards, war of words. If the golf gods are good to us, those two will end up playing again in the final round later on Sunday. But if it's only this final hour, that will be enough. Despite the restart before the originally scheduled broadcast time, Golf Channel will still carry coverage beginning right at 7 a.m. ET. It's the benefit of having the tournament under one umbrella, as NBC simply shifts the conclusion over to its sister network before taking things over again Sunday afternoon for the fourth round.
So before you head to Mother's Day brunch, flip on Golf Channel to see if Tiger and Sergio get off the course without coming to blows.
***UPDATE -- With the third round now over, here's the tee sheet for the final round on Sunday:
|08:35 AM||Van Pelt, Bo|
|08:40 AM||Blixt, Jonas||Curtis, Ben|
|08:49 AM||Points, D.A.||Teater, Josh|
|08:58 AM||Wi, Charlie||Sabbatini, Rory|
|09:07 AM||Davis, Brian||Harrington, Padraig|
|09:16 AM||Schwartzel, Charl||Kaymer, Martin|
|09:25 AM||Pettersson, Carl||Leonard, Justin|
|09:34 AM||Campbell, Chad||Bohn, Jason|
|09:43 AM||Hahn, James||Noh, Seung-Yul|
|09:52 AM||Barnes, Ricky||Choi, K.J.|
|10:01 AM||Howell III, Charles||Thompson, Michael|
|10:10 AM||Huh, John||DeLaet, Graham|
|10:19 AM||Walker, Jimmy||Weekley, Boo|
|10:28 AM||Day, Jason||Hoffman, Charley|
|10:38 AM||Bae, Sang-Moon||Kirk, Chris|
|10:48 AM||Donald, Luke||Herron, Tim|
|10:58 AM||Jacobson, Freddie||English, Harris|
|11:08 AM||Senden, John||Hearn, David|
|11:18 AM||Chappell, Kevin||McGirt, William|
|11:28 AM||Driscoll, James||Johnson, Zach|
|11:38 AM||Cabrera, Angel||Watson, Bubba|
|11:48 AM||Scott, Adam||Kuchar, Matt|
|11:58 AM||Kelly, Jerry||Simpson, Webb|
|12:08 PM||Hanson, Peter||Crane, Ben|
|12:18 PM||Castro, Roberto||Every, Matt|
|12:28 PM||Love III, Davis||Romero, Andres|
|12:38 PM||McIlroy, Rory||Summerhays, Daniel|
|12:48 PM||Snedeker, Brandt||Laird, Martin|
|12:58 PM||Stroud, Chris||de Jonge, Brendon|
|01:08 PM||Grace, Branden||Stanley, Kyle|
|01:18 PM||Dufner, Jason||Oosthuizen, Louis|
|01:28 PM||Streelman, Kevin||Stricker, Steve|
|01:38 PM||O'Hair, Sean||Overton, Jeff|
|01:48 PM||Leishman, Marc||Westwood, Lee|
|01:58 PM||Mahan, Hunter||Chalmers, Greg|
|02:08 PM||Maggert, Jeff||Lynn, David|
|02:18 PM||Stenson, Henrik||Palmer, Ryan|
|02:28 PM||Woods, Tiger||Wittenberg, Casey|
|02:38 PM||Lingmerth, David||Garcia, Sergio|