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January 4 2013

6:09 PM

Winds causing first-round havoc

Scott Stallings struggles with the wind and rain in Hawaii. (Petersen/Getty Images)

By Ann Miller, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

KAPALUA, Hawaii -- High winds, rainy weather and squalls coming off the mountains at Kapalua have turned Friday's first round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions into an early grind for the 30 players in the 2013 season-opening event.

Play was suspended twice in the first 2-1/2 hours of the round. Balls were rolling off the putting surface on the second hole of the Plantation Course, forcing tournament officials to halt play.

"We're doing the best we can," PGA TOUR executive vice president Andy Pazder told the Golf Channel. "We're trying to soldier through it and do the best we can.

"It's tough for everybody."

There were nearly as many double bogeys (nine) as there was birdies (12) in the field when play was suspended.

"It’s basically unplayable out there …," TOUR official Jon Brendle told the Golf Channel. "The second green is right on a ridge, like 10 and 13, and the wind just shears over there. The ball would not come to rest. It was moving anywhere from 5 to 15 feet.”

U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson said his umbrella had broken.

"I feel like I'm in a hurricane," said Simpson.

Even so, he drained two 20-foot putts, birdied three of the first six and did not miss a green in regulation for his first seven holes. At 3-under par, he and rookie Jonas Blixt (1 under) were the only golfers in red numbers when officials suspended play at 12:45 p.m. local time.

Breezes were gusting up to 35 mph. Rain, often blowing sideways, kept coming and going as dark clouds covered the island of Molokai just across the channel, then were replaced by blue skies.

NBC and Golf Channel analyst Mark Rolfing, who lives at Kapalua, called it the worst day of golf he had seen in 22 years.

The final five groups had not finished the first hole when play was suspended. Rickie Fowler and Jason Dufner had the misfortune of teeing off first and it was a wild ride.

Dufner made the season’s first birdie, sinking a four-footer on the first hole, but double-bogeyed the diabolical second. His tee shot on the 166-yard hole came up 70 feet short and his seven-foot par putt blew five feet by.

Dufner got back under par with birdies at Nos. 5 and 6, but took another double on the next par-3 (No. 8) where his ball imbedded in a bunker.

Fowler bogeyed Nos. 2 and 3 and birdied No. 4. Then he matched Dufner’s double-bogey at the eighth, hitting his tee shot short in the gully, to drop to 3-over.

FedExCup champion Brandt Snedeker and Masters champ Bubba Watson were among the fortunate few who had late tee times and had yet to tee off.

"Right now, it's goofy golf. It's not real golf," Watson said.

Snedeker, practicing on the range, hit an 8-iron about 50 yards.

"It's unbelievable," he said.

 

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