February 19 2013
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
MARANA, Ariz. -- The Tuesday morning weather update issued by on-site meteorologist Stewart Williams began on an ominious note, and the news got worse as it progressed.
The words "last warm day" were followed by reports of increasing winds in the 20-30 mph range that would gust to 35 and bring blowing dust here in the Arizona desert.
But that is nothing compared with the forecast for Wednesday's first round of the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship that calls for rain -- as well as the possibility of snow. Winds in the 15-25 mph range should make the high temperatures in the mid-40s seem much colder.
Snow greeted Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer, the finalists at Dove Mountain two years ago. A similar dusting could make things interesting for the 64 players gathered for their first-round matches on Wednesday.
"I'm glad I'm playing in the afternoon and not the morning," said world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, whose match with Shane Lowry is slated for 2:05 p.m. ET. "I think the guys in the morning are going to be like icicles on the way in. ...
"This golf course isn't really built for the elements in a way. It's not like a links course where the elements are the only sort of protection for some links courses. But maybe the Europeans are used to playing in different conditions and that might help them in some way."
Donald knows from experience that any snow, and the expected rain, will only make the Ritz-carlton Golf Club play longer than it's 7,791 yards. The doesn't mean average hitters like Donald can't prosper, though.
"When bad weather is expected, the thing that gives me a gleam in my eyes is when I hear people worrying about it, complaining about it," Donald said. "I think as a player, the best approach is to try and embrace it, just know that it's going to be tough, work your way through it. It's going to be the same for my opponent.
"Just keep smiling through that tough weather, it's not going to be easy."
With the high, gusting winds on the horizon, Lee Westwood says a lot ball-hitter might have an edge on Wednesday. But at the same time, he noted, at least both competitors are playing in the same conditions -- unlike stroke-play events where there are morning and afternoon waves of tee times.
"I think the weather is just a case of getting your head around it and just getting your head down and getting on with it," Westwood said.