PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Mother Nature continues to inflict harm on the PGA Tour’s signature event. A Monday finish to the Players Championship is likely and a Tuesday finish isnt out of the question.
Play was suspended at 11:15 am due to unplayable conditions at the Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass with the first round still unfinished.
PGA Tour’s chief referee Gary Young said the course has received 2 inches of rain in the last 24 hours. The staff battled tough conditions, including using squeegees for puddles on greens, but it was a losing battle.
“Unfortunately, we have reached a point now where there’s just no window behind this area that we’re moving into now. There’s some lightning that is headed in this direction. We knew it was just going to be a point where we’re just going to be battling too hard to keep up,” Young said. “The golf course has reached a point where it’s unplayable, and we will ride this out as long as we can this afternoon. If a window of opportunity presents itself, we’ll get back out there later today.”
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While players have been told to stay on property in case play is able to resume, spectators have been asked to exit the premises for their safety. All venues, grandstands, concession stands and fan shops are closed.
“We may be in a situation where, if we don’t get back out there today, we’re assured of a Monday finish, and we’re also going to have some conversations about whether or not we re-pair the following Round 3 , Young said.
Even if the weather improves, Young said his staff will have to evaluate the conditions of the course.
“If we don’t get back out on the golf course before the end of the day, we all know we’ll be back on Monday,” Young said.
Kevin Kisner, who finished his first round Friday morning and posted 68, feared the worst of the weather may still be to come. The forecast for Saturday is dicey with high winds becoming a possible issue.
Kevin Kisner of the United States walks under an umbrella up the 11th hole during the continuation of the first round of THE PLAYERS Championship on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on March 11, 2022, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
“I’d rather play now than tomorrow when it’s blowing 30. That’s what I’m hoping for.”
Heavy winds could wreak havoc, causing more damage around the course.
“A lot of it depends on this system that’s going to come in overnight and be with us through a portion of the morning tomorrow. In speaking with (Tour meteorologist) Wade (Stettner), they’re anticipating some winds that could be in the area of 60 miles per hour as it comes through,” Young said. “So we’re going to make some adjustments to that, prepare for that overnight. The superintendent and his crew are going to need proper time to pick up debris, get the golf course back in condition. So there’s a lot of variables involved.”
Young was asked by Golf Channel’s Mike Tirico if they could play 36 holes on Sunday to finish on time and Young replied that he didn’t see it as a possibility.
According to the Tour, 1.3 inches of rain fell Wednesday night, which put preferred lies into play and moved tee times back an hour on Thursday. Another .45 inches fell during a four-hour, 14-minute suspension of play due to more dangerous weather in the area. Play was then suspended due to darkness at 6:36 pm ET with the majority of the field unable to finish.
The Players has endured seven Monday finishes in its 48-year history, most recently in 2005. Asked if the tournament could stretch into Tuesday, which has happened at the 2013 Sentry Tournament of Champions and the 2006 Booz Allen Classic, Young said, “The potential is there, but let’s hope not. I think everything that we’re looking at, we feel very confident that we can finish this tournament by Monday.”
The Players never had a Monday finish during the years from 2007-2018 when it was held in May before it returned to its former March date in 2019. Young said they are shooting for a 5-6 pm finish on Monday, which would leave time for a potential playoff. Asked if the bad weather is bad luck or a sign that March conditions are unfavorable for hosting the championship, Young said, “Highly, highly unusual to have this pattern for this prolonged period this time of year, looking back at the historical data on it . I would say at this point it’s just bad luck.”