A little before 6 p.m. ET on Sunday at TPC Sawgrass, Martin Kaymer becoming the latest Players Champion looked like a formality. He held a three-shot lead over Jim Furyk, who had to make a nerve-wracking par putt on the 18th. Then the horn blew with thunder and lightning in the area, and played was halted for over an hour.
When it resumed, Kaymer seemed to lose the steady game that was about to make him a wire-to-wire winner from his Thursday course record matching opening round. After the lanky German cleaned up a par on the 14th hole, he pull-hooked his first tee shot since the delay. He'd follow that poor tee ball up with three more poor shots, and walked off the 15th green with a double bogey and his three-shot lead reduced to one.
Now, Kaymer is clinging to a one shot lead and the new Players Championship playoff rules may come into play. This is the first year that the PGA Tour switched up the playoff format, making it a three-hole aggregate contest on holes 16 through 18. Those are three of the most iconic finishing holes in the world, and obviously the Tour wanted to bring a more thorough test into play, instead of just a one-shot do-or-die on the island 17th hole. The 16th is a perfect risk-reward par-5, where an eagle is just as likely as a ball in the water. The island hole speaks for itself, and the 18th tee shot may be the hardest these players face all year.
If Kaymer does drop one more shot and finish in a tie with Furyk at 12-under, the playoff reportedly won't start until Monday morning. The delay will make it a tight finish for that final pairing of Kaymer and Jordan Spieth, who have about 25 minutes to play the final two holes before sunset. Will we see the new playoff rules and a Monday finish?