Players Championship gets 4 hours of play and Monday finish

Mar 10, 2022, 8:14 PM | Updated: Mar 11, 2022, 1:33 pm
Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, tries to stay dry on ninth green during the first round of play ...

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, tries to stay dry on ninth green during the first round of play in The Players Championship golf tournament Friday, March 11, 2022, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The Players Championship delivered only four hours of golf Friday before rain saturated the TPC Sawgrass, assuring the PGA Tour’s premier event will not end until Monday.

So much for Saturday being “moving day.”

Based on the forecast of overnight rain and raging wind, the tour said there was no chance of even making the cut until Sunday.

Play was stopped at 11:15 a.m. The conditions and the forecast were so bad the first round was not scheduled to resume until 11 a.m. Saturday, and that was described as a best-case scenario.

“The golf course has just reached a point of saturation, and unfortunately the weather conditions are not providing us any relief,” said Gary Young, the chief referee of The Players.

Puddles formed on the putting surfaces when play was stopped, and the rain kept coming. Young said the Stadium Course — formerly a swamp before the late architect Pete Dye worked his magic — had received some 3 inches of rain over a period of 36 to 48 hours.

It will be the eighth Monday finish since The Players Championship began in 1974, and the first since 2005. All the Monday finishes have occurred in March. The Players was held in May for 12 years until returning to its earlier date in 2019.

But it’s never been as disjointed as this.

The opening round was delayed an hour at the start, and then was suspended for 4 hours, 15 minutes. Thursday ended with Ian Poulter running from tee-to-green on the par-3 17th so he could tee off on the 18th and assure his group could finish before darkness.

There’s a good chance Poulter might not hit another shot until Sunday morning.

Only 96 players from the 144-man field have finished 18 holes.

Tommy Fleetwood and Tom Hoge finished on Thursday and each posted a 6-under 66. At best, they won’t start the second round until late Saturday afternoon.

Brice Garnett holed out for eagle from the fourth fairway and was at 6 under with five holes to play when he returns Saturday.

Daniel Berger was among those at 5 under, and he was the first sign the conclusion of the opening round might have to wait. He was just short of the par-5 11th green when he called for an official because of water in the area where he wanted to land his pitch.

Out came the squeegees, and a delay waiting for them to move away the water. Jordan Spieth’s second shot into the 12th was in the middle of a puddle, and he stood over his mark as the squeegee crew cleared away the water.

Dustin Johnson had three birdies in his opening four holes and went out in 32 before the wet greens twice fooled him and led to three-putt bogeys — a 40-foot putt he left well short on the 10th, a downhill putt from 30 feet that ran 6 feet by on the 13th.

Berger figured them out. He holed a 40-foot birdie putt from the fringe on No. 12 and, just as important, hit a beautiful lag putt from 50 feet on the 13th. He followed with birdie putts from 18 feet and 15 feet to reach 5 under.

Johnson was at 4 under when he walked off the green at the par-5 16th with the rain falling harder than it had all morning. Johnson is among the fastest players in golf (until he gets to the green), but not on this occasion. He took his time as he stared at the island green of the par-3 17th in a driving rain. He fiddled with his glove. He slowly reached into his bag for a rain jacket.

A horn to stop play was coming, just not fast enough. He finally hit wedge near the hole and was happy it spun back only 20 feet.

And then play was stopped before he putted. Standing in a tunnel beneath the bleachers, Johnson talked about his timing with having to hit the tee shot, but had no complaints.

“I will take that shot just where it is,” he said with a big grin.

Spieth illustrated why the island green is not really an island. His tee shot was a little long and a little left, and it caught the walkway and rolled down the slope as it hugged the edge. Because players can lift, clean and place golf balls in closely mown areas, he didn’t have to stand on the wooden frame to attempt his pitch.

He barely got it on the green, and chose to mark his ball. It will be nearly 24 hours before Spieth, who was 2 under, hits his par putt.

That wasn’t the only good break for Spieth.

He was in under the edge of a palmetto bush right of the 12th fairway, with no option but to go sideways to the fairway. He hit a tree on the 15th and dropped down into a flower bush, from where he could only hack out.

In both cases, the ball was embedded. He received a drop one club length away. Two embedded balls, two pars. And still a long way to go before this tournament takes shape.

___

More AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

New York Yankees' Aaron Judge looks out before a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox Sunday, S...
Associated Press

Judge still at 60, Yanks get rain-shortened win over Sox

NEW YORK (AP) — Aaron Judge remained at 60 home runs, one short of Roger Maris’ American League record, when the New York Yankees’ 2-0 victory Sunday night over the Boston Red Sox was called after six innings because of rain. Judge went 1 for 2 with a double and was due up next for […]
21 hours ago
Tyler Reddick drives in front of Erik Jones (43) during the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Texas Mo...
Associated Press

Reddick wins NASCAR playoff race in long, tiring Texas day

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Tyler Reddick opened the round of 12 in NASCAR’s playoff with a victory at Texas on Sunday, winning a week after being one of the first four Cup drivers knocked out of title contention. After none of the contenders won the first three races of the playoffs — a first […]
21 hours ago
Atlanta Braves's Ronald Acuna Jr. celebrates after scoring on an RBI single by Michael Harris II du...
Associated Press

Acuña delivers late, Braves outlast Phillies 8-7 in 11

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Ronald Acuña singled home the go-ahead run in the 11th inning and the Braves stayed close in the NL East race, outlasting the Phillies 8-7 Sunday in a game that took over six hours to complete because of a two-hour rain delay. “Our goal is to win the World Series again,” Acuna […]
21 hours ago
Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Tom Brady thorws during the second half of an NFL football game against the G...
Associated Press

Rodgers throws for 2 TDs, Packers hold off Brady, Bucs 14-12

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers did just enough to beat Tom Brady and the short-handed Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The NFL MVP threw for 255 yards and two touchdowns, and the Packers withstood a late rally led by Brady to hold off the Bucs for a 14-12 victory in the […]
21 hours ago
New York Mets designated hitter Pete Alonso (20) reacts after a home run in the fourth inning of a ...
Associated Press

Alonso sets team RBI mark; Scherzer, Mets top A’s, hold lead

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Pete Alonso homered, doubled and drove in five runs to set the team record for RBIs, Max Scherzer pitched six sharp innings and the New York Mets routed the Oakland Athletics 13-4 Sunday to hold their NL East lead. The Mets remained 1 1/2 games ahead of Atlanta. New York has […]
21 hours ago
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Drake London, center, scores a touchdown during the second half of an...
Associated Press

Cordarrelle Patterson rumbles Falcons past Seahawks 27-23

SEATTLE (AP) — After more than a week away from home, Cordarrelle Patterson wasn’t about to head back to Atlanta as one of two winless teams in the NFL. “We’ve been away for eight days. I told them there’s no way I’m coming home with a ‘L,'” Patterson said. “My family would kill me if […]
21 hours ago
Players Championship gets 4 hours of play and Monday finish