Saturday at the PGA Championship was basically just about a total wash-out, with only 37 out of 86 players posting scores in the third round. At around 2:15pm, the horn sounded across Baltusrol GC, suspending play for what turned out to be the rest of the day. However, it was not officially called until 5:46pm — which was frustrating for everyone from the media to the players and the caddies, especially since it seemed clear that would be the case hours earlier.
Well, the grounds crew were spotted collecting flags/pins from the greens around 4:30pm, so at that point, it was strange that the PGA decided to wait over an hour longer to announce that no more golf would be played Saturday. When I ran into Zach Johnson’s caddie Damon Green as he was making his way toward the exit, he said they (along with the players) weren’t given any information for hours and had to rely on us (the media) for updates.
Here’s the plan (for now — the forecast looks just as bad if not worse for Sunday):
The THIRD ROUND of the 98th PGA Championship will resume at 7:00a.m. on Sunday, July 31, 2016. Evacuation vehicles will leave the Player’s Parking Lot at 6:45a.m.
All players must be in position and ready to play at 7:00a.m.
The FINAL ROUND will begin at 8:40a.m. in 9 minute intervals; staying in the same pairings as Round 3, starting from Tee #1 (approx. 8:40a.m. – 3:25p.m. starting times). Starting times for Final Round will be texted to players this evening.
This seems like it’ll be strange for the guys like Kevin Kisner (who told me he tees off at “10:45ish” tomorrow morning) and Padraig Harrington, who took advantage of moving day to leap onto the first page of the leaderboard. They’ll both be kicking off their fourth rounds while the other leaders are still playing their third rounds. It’s too hard to say now whether this is good or bad, but Kisner and Harrington won’t know exactly where they stand while they play their final round.
As I implied, this may all change depending on the weather and potential for further delays (which appears very likely). It’s interesting that given the forecast for Saturday, the PGA of America didn’t opt for a two-tee start with threesomes.
“The forecast, actually the last three days, has called for very similar weather, which summer weather, it’s 90 degrees, actually it was a bit cooler today, with a chance of afternoon storms,” said Kerry Haigh, the PGA of America’s Championships Officer (he’s like Mike Davis is to the USGA).
“It’s a major championship and we certainly try and look at starting from one tee wherever we can. Unfortunately the weather didn’t help us today. I think we have sort of a similar forecast for tomorrow. Our hope is that those showers or storms hit elsewhere.”
Huh? Which forecast were they looking at? I’m pretty sure it’s not just me that recalls seeing that the forecast and chance of thunderstorms looked much worse for the weekend than the previous two days.
Naturally, in Haigh’s presser, he was questioned about a comment he made at the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla (in Kentucky), where — shocker — there were weather delays. Two years ago, he said the PGA was not opposed to a two-tee start with threesomes, which one reporter pointed out as contradictory to what he said Saturday evening.
“It certainly depends on when it is in the championship,” said Haigh. It’s something we absolutely would prefer not to do, but if it’s something that you have to do make a conclusion to a major championship, then we would certainly look at it.
“But we do have Monday as an option, to continue into Monday if we need be. But our primary aim is to try and finish tomorrow evening. I think we’ll look at what tomorrow brings us. We’re certainly open to try and do whatever we can to make a finish.
“The forecast right now is that once this goes through to be somewhat dry overnight, but as we said, there is a chance of rain again tomorrow. I guess we’ll look at that in the morning and do what we think is best to get as much golf played as we can tomorrow.”
#allthebest #tuesdayfinish #pleaseno
Unfortunately, with the forecast calling for thunderstorms on Sunday (80% chance) and Monday (60% chance), some are even predicting a strong chance for a — godforsaken — Tuesday finish, like Kevin Na’s caddie Kenny Harms (hate to admit this, but he’s “right” a lot).
At least I got a couple of good laughs Saturday evening, but this one takes the cake. I was walking across the parking lot toward the clubhouse/locker room after play was officially called and most the top players were making their way to their courtesy cars, but I stumbled upon and walked right by Henrik Stenson’s courtesy car. His caddie Gareth Lord was at the wheel, waiting for the Open Champion Golfer of the Year, who wasn’t just signing some autographs for fans.
I decided to have a bit of fun by playing kind of a joke on Lordy. It was too easy and right in front of me, I couldn’t help it. When Stenson’s manager and another member of his management team turned the corner and saw what I was doing, they started cracking up, with one of them also saying in between laughs, “Oh, that’s evil!”
I know I haven’t mentioned details of the joke, but that’s not important. Just enjoyed the a good laugh given the situation and circumstances, especially Stenson’s reaction below and saying, “That’s not nice!”
[Ugh, I’m having formatting issues when embedding the video via social media again. This has become a daily problem that is extremely irritating, but here’s the link to watch — worth the extra click!]
The luckiest and unluckiest player in the field was Russell Knox. He and Marc Leishman were putting on the 18th greens when Knox saw an official with the dreaded horn in his hand to signal the suspension of play.
This is important because unlike when play is suspended for darkness and a player can finish the hole as long as one person in the group has teed off, when a weather-delay horn sounds, that’s it, suckers. No matter what, players are not allowed to take another shot or stroke — no exceptions.
I know, it sounds awful, but so are many of the Rules of Golf. I mean, safety first, guys! [Should be noted that when horn blows at YOUR course/club, your life is indeed in danger and you should immediately find shelter, but at big events, like a major or even a regular Tour event, the horn sounds earlier, so that 30,000 (or way fewer) drunks/people can try to find their way to their car.]
Knox moved even quicker when he saw the official and rushed to tap-in for par. But Leishman wasn’t as lucky. He has a 12-footer for birdie and didn’t manage to get the ball in the hole yet. Unfortunately for Knox, that meant instead of having a leisurely Saturday afternoon, he had to sit around like the rest of us fools because he needs to sign and attest Leishman’s scorecard. The reaction says it all…
Stupid horn pic.twitter.com/XB5rARw1eT
— Michael Shamburger (@mshamburger1) July 30, 2016
The only players who were likely “happy” with their Saturdays were the ones who went low early and spent the rest of their afternoon away from the golf course. Kevin Kisner, who was even-par at the halfway mark, fired a five-under 65 to surge up the leaderboard 47 spots to a tie for 6th. He sauntered to his courtesy car with ample time before the rain came.
While Kisner won’t know exactly how low he needs to go for a shot at the Wanamaker, he knows it better be low and he knows he needs some help.
“20-under won the last major,” said Kisner. “I think you better attack it every time you get a chance on the PGA Tour.
“I’m pretty sure I can’t get to 20. Hopefully I can get to 10 or 11 and have a shot tomorrow.”
When I texted him about how happy he must be to have shot 65 and be done this evening, his goals sounded loftier.
“Good day, be nicer a 62 tomorrow and sit around,” he said.
Here’s how he spent his afternoon while 50-some (probably smelly) dudes twiddled their thumbs in a cramped locker room:
For the win.
Here are the final-round pairings and tee times. Wait, aren’t there around 50 players who have yet to post a score for the third round, including 12 that have yet to even tee off? Yep. So, this could get even weirder pretty quick. Like I mentioned above, the fact that the clubhouse leaders who took advantage of moving day will be playing their final rounds while the other leaders will be barely done with their first nine of the third round. Or something like that.
But, no worries, I guess. There’s a 70% chance that by 6am these tee times — if the current forecast turns out to be correct — will no longer be ripped up and it’ll be back to the drawing board for the PGA and the powers-that-be will have to improvise some more.
All the best.