KAPALUA, Hawaii — For those who think the PGA Tour season never ends, here’s a new twist: This one can’t get started.
The season-opening Tournament of Champions was postponed for the second straight day because of gusts that topped 40 mph and made it impossible to play golf. Unlike the previous day when 24 players managed to tee off, no one hit a shot Saturday on the Plantation Course at Kapalua.
“We tried as best we could,” said Slugger White, the tour’s vice president of rules and competition. Play was delayed three times before it was called for the day.
The season now starts today — that’s when most tournaments end — with hopes of playing 36 holes, followed by an 18-hole finish Monday.
It will be the first time the Tournament of Champions is reduced to 54 holes since 1997, when Tiger Woods hit a 7-iron to a foot to beat Tom Lehman in a playoff. The par 3 at La Costa was the only hole that could be used because of wet conditions.
Players arrived in darkness and did not get farther than the practice range. The wind has been relentless for two days. The back nine of the Plantation Course is higher up the mountain and more exposed. White and the rules officials found that golf balls kept moving on the 10th, 11th and 13th holes.
“On the 10th hole, we dropped a ball on the back of the green and it rolled 20 yards off the front,” White said.
He said the wind caused another ball to roll uphill.
The forecast is slightly better for today and Monday, with strong wind in the morning gradually abating through the day. Even so, the Plantation Course is a long walk with severe changes in elevation, which figures to be brutal on the caddies. White said they were considering offering more shuttle rides on portions of the course.
“It’s just a little too windy out there for us to play,” Brandt Snedeker said. “If the course wasn’t so exposed, it wouldn’t be a problem. But you have a lot of greens exposed to 40 mph wind gusts. It’s tough to make that call. They did the right thing. We had to try to play today if we wanted to try to get 72 holes in.”
The PGA Tour has weather guidelines with an emphasis to play 72 holes, even going a fifth day provided the forecast allows for it.
But this is different.
The tour opted last year for a Monday finish to try to stay away from NFL playoffs, and finish before the BCS championship game.