A Rare Rainout Suspends Players Championship With Three Tied for Lead
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — This year’s Players Championship, a signature event of the PGA Tour, will take an extra day to complete after torrential rains on Friday in northern Florida suspended play for a second consecutive day. Golfers endured Friday’s foul weather for only a few soggy hours at the T.P.C. Sawgrass golf course, one day after the first round was twice interrupted by rain delays and never completed.
The back-to-back postponements will ensure that the 72-hole, four-round tournament, scheduled to end on Sunday afternoon, will not finish before Monday for the first time since 2005.
Large puddles had become common on most greens by 10 a.m. on Friday, and maintenance crews used squeegees to remove water after each group finished a hole. But in time, with fairways all but flooded, officials ordered players off the course. The first round is still not complete.
“The golf course has just reached a point of saturation, and unfortunately the weather conditions are not providing us any relief,” Gary Young, the chief referee of the event, said late Friday afternoon.
Young added that the golf course had received almost three inches of rain in the previous 36 to 48 hours and that the tournament will restart no sooner than 11 a.m. on Saturday. The third round will not be completed Sunday, and severe weather was expected in the area Friday night into Saturday morning, including wind gusts that could reach 60 miles an hour. But the tour is anticipating clearer weather by midday Saturday even though the T.P.C. Sawgrass layout will most likely still be subject to considerable wind.
The conditions, coupled with a challenging Pete Dye-designed course that features multiple daunting shots over water hazards, could make for unpredictable results. Moreover, the final-round leaders will be forced to complete more than 18 holes on Monday.
On Friday morning, Young said the tour was potentially considering a Tuesday finish to the event, but hours later he said, “We feel very confident that we’re going to be able to accomplish the conclusion of this championship on Monday evening.” A last round on Tuesday was “not really in our thought process,” Young said.
It is the eighth time that the Players Championship, which was first contested in 1974, will not finish on Sunday. While Monday finishes are infrequent on the PGA Tour and at major championships — the last Monday finish at the Masters tournament was 1983 — they are not unheard-of, and players have generally learned to adapt.
“You just know that you’re here hopefully until the very end of the tournament, and you just get on with it,” said Tommy Fleetwood, who was one of a few dozen golfers to complete 18 holes on Thursday and is tied for the lead at six under par. “Everybody’s in the same circumstances. When it’s your turn to play, you play.
“It’s easy to get caught off guard when you’re hanging around for a long time and then all of a sudden you have to try to switch it back on. But you almost have to relax as much as you can and save your energy but always kind of stay ready and in that mind-set that you might be going out at any time,” Fleetwood said.