The Players Championship played only four hours of golf on Friday before the rain saturated TPC Sawgrass. This ensures that the PGA Tour’s top event will continue through Monday.
So much for Saturday being “moving day.”
The tour stated that there was no chance of the tour making it to Sunday due to the overnight rains and the raging winds.
At 11:15 AM, play was stopped. Because of the weather and forecast, the first round could not be resumed until Saturday at 11:15 a.m. This was considered a worst-case scenario.
Gary Young, chief referee at The Players, stated, “The golf course is just reaching a point of saturation and unfortunately the weather conditions don’t provide us with any relief.”
When play was stopped, puddles were formed on the putting surfaces. The rain continued to pour down. Young stated that the Stadium Course, which was a swamp until Pete Dye’s time, had seen 3 inches of rain in 36 to 48 hours.
This will be the eighth Monday finish of The Players Championship since 1974 and the first since 2005. All Monday finishes have been in March. The Players was held in March for 12 years, until it returned to its original date in 2019.
It’s been more disjointed than this.
The start of the opening round was delayed by an hour. It was then suspended for four hours and fifteen minutes. Thursday’s final round ended with Ian Poulter sprinting from tee to green on the par-3 17th in order to tee off on 18th and ensure his group could finish before dark.
Poulter may not get another chance until Sunday morning.
Only 96 of the 144 players have completed 18 holes.
Tommy Fleetwood finished with a 6-under-66, as did Tom Hoge. They won’t play the second round of golf until Saturday afternoon at best.
Brice Garnett shot for an eagle on the fourth fairway. He was at 6 under and still has five holes to play when Saturday comes around.
Daniel Berger was one of those at 5 under and was the first to indicate that the end of the first round may have to be delayed. When he was just short of the par-5 eleventh green, he called an official due to water in the area where his pitch was being played.
The squeegees arrived, with a delay while they moved the water away. Jordan Spieth took his second shot at the 12th from the middle of a puddle. He stood above the mark while the squeegee crew removed the water.
Dustin Johnson made three birdies in the first four holes. He went out in 32, before the wet greens twice fooled his eyes. This led to three-putt Bogeys. A 40-foot putt that he missed on the 10th was short of the hole. On the 13th, a downhill shot from 30 feet that ran 6 foot by Johnson was left.
Berger solved them. Berger hit a 40-foot birdie from the fringe of No. He also hit a stunning lag putt of 50 feet from the 13th. To reach 5 under, he followed up with birdie putsts of 18 and 15 feet.
Johnson was 4 under when he walked onto the par-5 16th green with rain pouring harder than usual. Johnson is one of the most fast players in golf, but not this time. Johnson took his time staring at the island green on the par-3 17th, in driving rain. He fiddled with the glove. He reached for his rain jacket slowly.
He was almost there when the horn sounded, but it wasn’t fast enough. He finally hit the wedge close to the hole, and was pleased it spun back only twenty feet.
Then, play was stopped. Johnson was seated in a tunnel below the bleachers and spoke about the timing of hitting the tee shot. However, he had no complaints.
He said, “I will take that photo just where it’s at,” with a huge grin.
Spieth demonstrated why the island green was not an island. His tee shot was slightly long and left and caught the walkway. It then rolled down the slope while it hugged the edge. He didn’t need to stand on the wooden frame because players can lift, clean, and place golf balls in areas that are closely mown.
He was unable to get it on the green and decided to mark his ball. Spieth, at 2 under, will not be able to hit his par putt for nearly 24 hours.
Spieth didn’t get his only positive break.
Right at the 12th fairway, he was right under the palmetto bush’s edge. He had no choice but to turn around and go the other way. On the 15th, he hit a tree and fell into a bush of flowers. He could not get out.
Both cases saw the ball embedded. He was one club length away from the ball. Two embedded balls, and two pars. There is still much to be done before this tournament can take shape.