Can the Players Championship be shortened? Or finish on… Tuesday?! Your questions, answered
The first round of the tournament was delayed on Thursday morning, again a few hours later and a handful of players never even teed off. Friday wasn’t any better. Play was suspended at 11:15 a.m. and called for the day four hours later. To make matters worse, the weather forecast is not great for Saturday, as strong winds will come into play. (And you thought hitting the island green 17th was hard enough as is?)
According to Gary Young, the chief referee of the tournament, who spoke to on-site media Friday afternoon, the course received about three inches of rain in the past 36-48 hours.
“The golf course has just reached a point of saturation, and unfortunately the weather conditions are not providing us any relief,” Young said.
You might have questions. We have answers (mostly courtesy of Young). Here’s what you need to know about the state of the Players Championship.
When will play resume on Saturday?
Young said play won’t begin before 11 a.m. on Saturday. “The rules committee will arrive early [Saturday] morning,” he said. “We will assess the weather situation with Wade Stettner, our meteorologist, and at that point we will have a better idea of what is happening with this severe weather system that we’re expecting to come through the area sometime between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. [Saturday]. That is the projected arrival.”
How does Saturday’s weather look?
Windy! “The conditions we’re going to be facing [Saturday] with the winds that are predicted, the pace of play is going to be slower as well,” Young said. “… In speaking with Wade, they’re anticipating some winds that could be in the area of 60 miles per hour as it comes through.” There also could be lightning in the morning, but the hope is the only issue players have to deal with in the afternoon is wind.
What about Sunday’s weather?
Sunday will be cold and cloudy but with almost no chance of rain, so that’s good news. The course, however, is likely to be wet but playable.
What are the chances they can finish on Sunday?
So a likely Monday finish?
That’s the hope. There have previously been seven Monday finishes at the Players, the most recent in 2005. “We are very confident at this point — we’re into a Monday finish,” Young said. “We know that. If our calculations on everything hold together and we’re able to start [Saturday], we certainly expect to be finished with the championship on Monday.” Young added that, in an ideal world, there’d be enough time on Monday evening to squeeze in a three-hole playoff, if necessary. He said that would be finishing around 6:30 p.m.
And Monday’s weather?
Mostly cloudy with hardly any chance of rain and a high of 67. It’s about time.
What about a Tuesday finish?
Crazy, isn’t? Maybe not. “The potential is there,” Young said. “The potential, but let’s hope not. I think everything that we’re looking at, we feel very confident that we can finish this tournament by Monday.”
Could the Players just be shortened to 54 holes?
Very, very unlikely. According to the PGA Tour handbook, when it comes to the Players Championship, the commissioner has the ability to extend play beyond Monday in order to complete 72 holes. Better said: the PGA Tour does not want its marquee event cut short. Here’s the actual handbook, tweeted by No Laying Up:
Will the next few days be packed with round-the-clock golf to catch up?
In short, no. “We’re not trying to rush anyone and continue play just like a race to try to achieve it,” Young said. “We are still building in our normal three hours between the two waves, making sure that things turn right on time, spacing them appropriately. We have a pace-of-play policy. In our calculations, these are all based on the weather conditions that are forecasted, and we feel that we’ve got favorable conditions. Although it’s going to be windy, we feel we’re going to have the next two days rain-free following this weather event [Saturday] morning. Once that front goes through, we know we’re going to have good weather conditions, and then we’re just planning it like we would normally plan a round of golf.”
With strong winds expected on Saturday, will fans be allowed on the course?
Young said they’ll allow fans in on Saturday around the time tee times begin, which is currently TBD. “We just want to make sure we’re keeping everyone safe. That’s our No. 1 priority, our fans, keeping everyone safe,” he said. “There’s no need to bring people in here earlier and then have to evacuate them knowing the system is coming. We just want to message that to everyone. When we announce that tee time, that’s when the gates will open.”
What about tickets for the rest of the tournament?
Tickets purchased for Friday will be honored for Saturday or Sunday. Friday parking passes, however, won’t be honored on Saturday or Sunday. There’s been no announcement yet regarding Monday tickets.
Will the number of players who make the cut change?
No. The normal top 65 and ties will make the 36-hole cut.