Archive for Saturday, March 26, 2005

Rainout throws TPC into disarray

Second round set for today, but forecast remains gloomy

March 26, 2005


— The 17th hole was still the only island green Friday on the TPC at Sawgrass.

But just barely.

The second round of The Players Championship lasted all of 44 minutes before rain saturated the Stadium Course and left half the fairways unplayable. Nearly seven hours later, officials had no choice but to send players home until 7 a.m. today and figure out what to do next.

"The perfect scenario would be getting the second round in tomorrow," PGA Tour tournament director Mark Russell said. "We really haven't thought much beyond that."

Steve Jones, who opened with a 64 for a one-shot lead, won't play until noon today.

This was the seventh time in 13 tournaments that weather halted play during a round, and it was the second straight week that Mother Nature had thrown a PGA Tour event into chaos. The first round of the Bay Hill Invitational was washed out after three hours, creating three marathon days until a Sunday finish. Golf's fifth major might not be that lucky.

The forecast includes thunderstorms the rest of the week, and Russell wouldn't rule out anything -- a 54-hole tournament for the first time in the 31-year history of The Players Championship, maybe even the first Tuesday finish on the PGA Tour in 25 years.

"We're keeping all our options open," he said.

Still undecided was whether the second round would resume at 7 a.m., or if it would start over. The 30 players on the course were not allowed to lift, clean and place their balls in the fairway. That means the entire second round would have to be played under those terms, even if balls were coated with mud. The only other option is to start over.

That would be welcome news for Ernie Els.

The Big Easy provided the usual dose of craziness for such a short day of work. He hit his opening tee shot so far to the right that it nearly landed in the caddie's parking lot. He blasted off pine straw back toward the fairway, and it took one bounce and struck Lee Janzen in the right hip.

Asked if he had ever been hit on the PGA Tour, Janzen replied, "And it wasn't an amateur?"

Els then missed the green with a sand wedge and was facing a 12-foot putt just to save bogey. If the round has to start anew, he would return to the first tee.

Skip Kendall and Joe Ogilvie were both 2 under for their rounds after two holes, with Kendall holing a 35-yard chip for eagle on the par-5 second. Those starts would be erased if officials deemed there was too much mud.

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