The PGA Championship is likely headed for a Monday finish, and possibly even a Tuesday finish if the weather gods conspire against it as they did on Saturday. The PGA of America, and everyone else paying attention to a forecast, knew there were storms headed toward Baltusrol on Saturday afternoon. They probably could not have predicted that they would be so intense and persistent as to wipe out the entire afternoon of golf -- the horn blew at 2:15 p.m. ET and the players never came back out on the course. But it was still easy to see that a significant weather disruption was coming on Saturday and that sticking on schedule for a Saturday third-round finish and Sunday evening finish was going to be a challenge.
If this were a PGA Tour event, they would have reacted instantaneously and put the the field out in groups of three and off split tees early on Saturday morning. They do this regularly throughout the season when the forecast is dicey, either in the morning or late afternoon. This is the required order when the field is at 156 players before the cut. After the cut, however, sending them off split tees in groups of three results in about a two-hour block of tee times. The Tour does this all the time with success and gets Sunday on-time finishes. Majors try to avoid it.
UPDATE: Kerry Haigh discussed this possibility with Jim Nantz late on Saturday. He said there was some thought to going split tees early in the morning, but that they like to send everyone off one tee for a major.
Now the weekend field at the PGA is abnormally large at 86 players. They keep the top 70 and ties and have no secondary 54-hole cut, so they're stuck with that bloated 86 player number for the next two rounds. Even still, if they started them in groups of three and off two tees, the leaders would have been out on the course before 10 a.m. and almost finished, or done with their round as the storms rolled in and the horn blew.
This seems to be the consensus on Twitter, where the PGA is taking heat for not making the move to push tee times up and off two tees.
Maybe the PGA was too busy writing that Spieth rules explanation thing to check the forecast— Luke Kerr-Dineen (@LukeKerrDineen) July 30, 2016
PGA made a mistake with the weather in 05, necessitating Monday finish. Similar scenario now. Gambled and lost -- but it happens. #PGAChamp— Bob Harig (@BobHarig) July 30, 2016
No wondering needed - the PGA screwed up, big-time. https://t.co/hpgZv901RB— Alan Shipnuck (@AlanShipnuck) July 30, 2016
Jason Sobel did his own hindsight calculations of what could have been:
It's all hindsight now, but if the PGA of America had moved up tee times, here's how the day could've played out: pic.twitter.com/njwBBhHCFd— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelESPN) July 30, 2016
It's not ideal and the TV partners probably had a say in not moving tee times up, but those TV partners are now stuck with showing old footage of last year's PGA during their entire broadcast window. And they'll probably have a conclusion during the middle of a workday.
So why is a Monday, or even Tuesday finish likely? Because the Sunday forecast looks awful too.
But the REALLY bad news is Sunday's forecast. Eesh. pic.twitter.com/PHth28ZDPj— Luke Kerr-Dineen (@LukeKerrDineen) July 30, 2016
That forecast may change, or it may not be so severe as to stop play. But the course is going to be in rough shape. Oh, by the way, we've still got an hour of tee times before that last group of Jimmy Walker and Robert Streb tee off, and who knows when that will be. We could have been through 54 holes by now!
A Monday finish may have been likely even if they had pushed tee times up and off two tees on Saturday morning. But there would have been only one round left, as opposed to two, and now the Monday finish seems unavoidable. It might even be the hopeful outcome. The PGA saw this forecast, could have adjusted, and are now taking jabs for their stubbornness.