Conditions were hideous on Saturday at THE PLAYERS. Fortunately, the rain had gone, but the wind still blew with gusts that were as high as 43 mph. When play began, the entire golf course was dotted with players who had been mid-round on Friday when play was stopped for lightning.
Unfortunately for the golfers who had finished round one, they had to go back out again and start their second rounds in horrible conditions. The wind was relentless, and the temperature was plummeting. It dropped from 70 at 11 a.m. to 55 at 3 p.m.
How windy was it? The first four golfers to tee off at the 17th after play resumed in the afternoon found water. The group of Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele and Brooks Koepka played together, and all hit the water.
In the next group up, Collin Morikawa went first and suffered the same fate. However, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas found dry land. Thomas saved his water shot for the 18th hole, where his tee shot found the cart path then some grass and his second found the water left.
Brooks Kopeka described the situation.
“There's nothing you can do,” he said about the wind gusts. “I don't think it was going harder for anybody else out here than when me, Scottie and Xander played it. When we first teed off, that was my first shot of the day, and I thought it was blowing the hardest.”
He said it picked up again in their second round when they were on 16.
“I hit 8-iron, flew 205 yards on 16. On 17 hit it 105,” he said. “I felt like I got some bad breaks along with not playing well. Kind of one of those things for me. It's just tough, man.”
It was one calamity after another as names popped up on the leaderboard and fell off just as fast.
Tommy Fleetwood’s 6-under par held up until he started his second round late in the day, birdied the second hole and temporarily got to 7-under par. It didn’t last. He was back at 6-under soon. His round would not be completed until sometime Sunday morning because his second round was suspended at 6:29 p.m. He has played just three holes in round two.
After 36 holes, Bubba Watson emerged from the pack. Despite being the kind of player who hits high balls, which should be bad on a windy day, he finished 3-under par with had four birdies for the round.
“It was one of those days you had to trust and you had to be committed to your shots, even if they go wild,” Watson said. “Some guys didn't tee off. When you think about that, you're just like, man, if I'd have just had a different tee time, I might have done better.”
Watson was tied with Thomas who, after 14 holes of his second round, was able to patch up his game and get back on the leaderboard at 3-under par. Although he had a catastrophic hook on the 9th that landed him leaves and pine straw, he made par, mainly because it was a par 5. The 9th was his 18th hole for the day and 36th for the tournament.
“To be perfectly honest, I blame Tiger,” he joked. “I played in the afternoon so I could go to his Hall of Fame ceremony. If I would have just maybe stuck to my guns and played early, I would have been better.”
In fact, he added that he was thrilled with the way he played.
While Fleetwood seems to be leading, his wave, which started Thursday morning, has not played the same number of holes as Watson and Thomas. So, there is no real leader.
The first round started at 7:45 a.m. Thursday and wasn’t completed until 2:01 p.m. Saturday. It took 54 hours and 16 minutes. The PGA TOUR believes that there may be one or two situations where rounds took longer to complete, but really, they don’t keep these kinds of records. They hope it doesn’t happen.
When play was called for darkness, the low score for 36 holes was Watson at 3-under par. He would not start round three until sometime Sunday.
Balls in the water at 17: four on Thursday and Friday, 29 on Saturday.
That was only about six hours of golf.
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