With TPC Sawgrass receiving two-and-a-half inches of rain overnight and Friday morning, THE PLAYERS tournament officials have halted play.
“We battled through some pretty tough conditions this morning,” said Gary Young, chief referee for the tournament. “The golf course has reached a point where it's unplayable.”
Young said the maintenance crew did what they could by squeegeeing greens to get casual water off the from greens. In addition, the greens have a special system called SubAir which speeds drainage, but the rest of the course relies on gravity.
The Tour has asked all the golfers who were on the course to remain on site because there may be another window later today when they can return to the course.
“We were hoping to get four hours of golf in today, which we did accomplish,” Young said. “If we don't get back out there today, we're assured of a Monday finish.”
The location of the golf course, according to Young, is on the edge of a weather system that may move farther north. If that happens, then they have the possibility of play in the late afternoon.
Part of the decision on whether or not play runs into Monday has to do with weather that is coming tonight and tomorrow. Heavy thunderstorms and 60 mph winds are a possibility. That, Young said, would definitely slow down play.
In addition, there are many structures on the golf course, particularly at the 16th, 17th and 18th holes. Very high winds could certainly cause damage to them, although Young said that they supposedly can handle that kind of weather.
“The superintendent and his crew are going to need proper time to pick up debris, get the golf course back in condition,” Young added. “Our expectations are to be back to normal operations once this system does move through.”
Announcements on how that affects tickets and parking will be made once Young and his crew know when play will resume. For today, they have closed all concessions and skyboxes for safety.
This is not the first time that THE PLAYERS faced a Monday finish. In fact, seven other times the tournament went into an extra day.
Monday finishes at THE PLAYERS:
In 1974, the first playing of the tournament, THE PLAYERS was held on Labor Day weekend at Atlanta Athletic Club. The final round was stopped several times due to weather. Twelve golfers finished their rounds on Monday, including the winner, Jack Nicklaus.
In 1976, THE PLAYERS was contested at Inverrary Country Club in Lauderhill, Florida, near Fort Lauderdale, the first week of March. The Saturday round was washed out due to thunderstorms. The third round was played on Sunday and the final round moved to Monday. Again, Jack Nicklaus was the winner.
In 1981, The Players moved to Sawgrass Country Club in Ponte Vedra Beach. It was held the third week of March. The final round was washed out with thunderstorms and moved to Monday. At the end of 72 holes, Raymond Floyd, Curtis Strange and Barry Jaeckel were tied. A sudden death playoff ensued, and it was won by Raymond Floyd.
By 1983, THE PLAYERS had found its home at TPC Sawgrass. It was held the last week of March. The weather on Thursday was so bad that the tournament didn’t start until Friday. Two rounds were to be played on Sunday, but weather on Sunday caused the final round to be finished on Monday.
In 2000, THE PLAYERS was held the last week in March. Heavy rain on Sunday caused the final round to be completed on Monday. Hal Sutton had led by a stroke after each of the first three rounds. He was paired with Tiger Woods on the final day. The two of them had a slugfest and on the 18th, after hitting his second shot, Sutton uttered the now famous line, “Be the right club today!”
In 2001, THE PLAYERS moved up to the third week of March. This time, THE PLAYERS was in the middle of Tiger Woods’ Tiger Slam year, only we didn’t know it yet. Weather during the week caused play to finish on Monday. Woods won his first of two PLAYERS titles, defeating Vijay Singh. A few weeks later, Woods went on to win the Masters, completing the Tiger Slam.
In 2005, weather caused real scheduling problems for THE PLAYERS. The second round was not completed until Sunday. The third round was played Monday morning and the final round was completed Monday afternoon. Fred Funk, one of the shortest but straightest hitters, won the championship.
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