Irene Reins In The Barclays to 54 Holes
By Stephanie Wei under FedEx Cup

So, what's your plan to get out of here after we're done tomorrow?

With Hurricane Irene storming up the east coast Friday morning and expected to hit the New Jersey area overnight tomorrow, PGA Tour officials and Barclays representatives decided to shorten the first leg of the FedExCup playoffs from 72 holes to — hopefully pending Saturday morning’s weather — 54 holes.

“We weighed all the options available to us, and under normal circumstances, we would obviously prefer to complete 72 holes,” PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said in an e-mail blast. “That’s even more true here at The Barclays, considering that this is such an important event to our players as they look to advance through the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedExCup.

“We realize that ‘waiting it out’ until Hurricane Irene passes and trying to play golf on Monday or Tuesday would only add unnecessary strain to those who will be trying to help the community recover from whatever potential damage the storm causes. The safety of the community, our fans, players, sponsor guests, television partners and staff is of the utmost importance.”

The plan is to finish the second round at Plainview Country Club in Edison, New Jersey, this evening, determine the cut and then start play of the third- and-final round at 7am, with tee times off both No. 1 and No. 10. Officials hope to wrap up the event by 2pm Saturday.

However, the forecast for the morning calls for heavy rain and there’s the possibility of cutting the tournament to 36 holes.

“If we don’t get 18 in tomorrow, we will resort back to 36 holes, and the FedEx points would go to that,” Slugger White, the Tour’s VP of rules, said, referring to next week’s Deutsche Bank Championship, the second of four playoff events.

If it comes to that, then the win would be considered unofficial, but FedExCup points and money would be official.

Obviously, the Tour and Barclays made the right call. This is just a golf tournament. While officials had their hands tied and wanted to make the decision as late as possible, question is whether it should have been done earlier.

The announcement was made at 12:30pm ET. Most of the guys in the morning wave had already signed their scorecards for the second round, while the rest were well into their back nine. Meanwhile, the second half of the field had yet to tee off, giving them the benefit of knowing Friday had turned into moving day. Now, arguably, this poses an unfair advantage to the morning wave, which is just the way things go sometimes.

Dustin Johnson, currently tied for second after shooting an eight-under 63, found out on 16 tee.

I got the attention of one of the caddies in the group to give him the news. Reaction? “Wow. Really? That’s the greatest decision in the history of the PGA Tour,” he said dryly.

Johnson’s caddie, Joe LaCava, wasn’t thrilled that they only found out with three holes to play.

“We’re 16 holes into the round and I understand they needed to make a decision, but I think it’s unfair,” said LaCava. “We may have changed our mode of thinking, knowing it was 54 and possibly 36. Now the guys in the afternoon get all 18 to think about it. If they’re four- or five-under, they know they’re going to have to go deep.”

He acknowledged there were a lot of factors that weighed into making the call, like TV, sponsors, everyone’s safety, etc., but he just would have preferred knowing before the second round began (or perhaps afterward).

“I’m just being selfish,” he said, with a smile. “But we’re already out there and might only have 3 holes to win the tournament.”

Here’s hoping Mother Nature gives us a little bit of a break and allows for another 18 to be played tomorrow.

(AP Photo/Rich Schultz)