Severe thunderstorms suspended the fourth round until Monday at Bay Hill. (Greenwood/Getty Images)
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
ORLANDO, Fla. --Tiger Woods' pursuit of an eighth victory at Bay Hill and a return to No. 1 in the world will have to wait another day.
Play was halted at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard after a line of severe thunderstorms with winds as high as 60 mph swept through the area, setting off a tornado warning and dumping 1 1/2 inches of rain.
The final round will resume at 10 a.m. ET on Monday. The final pairing of Woods and Rickie Fowler had completed two holes when play was suspended for dangerous weather just after 2 p.m. on Sunday.
"It just got to the point where we weren't going to be able to get the golf course ready," said PGA TOUR Vice President of Rules and Competition Mark Russell. "They're going to go out now and work till dark, and then do the same thing at daybreak in the morning and try to get ready to play.
"We just got unlucky with the weather. That micro burst on the radar was about the size of a pinhead, but it hit us directly. Then we got that little train situation, where if we had been 30 miles north or 30 miles south, we might have been OK. We just got unlucky."
Tickets from Sunday will be honored. Parking for fans will be at nearby Universal Studios with none allowed at the golf course because of the heavy rain.
Golf Channel will also carry the final round to its conclusion, beginning at 10 a.m. PGATOUR.COM's LIVE@ coverage will also begin at 10 a.m. as will coverage on PGA TOUR SiriusXM Radio.
Woods will have a three-shot lead over Fowler when he returns after making a birdie on the second hole, just before the horn sounded.
Fifteen minutes later torrential rain, thunder and lightning hammered the region. Lawn chairs lining the 18th hole were blown over, a TV tower behind the 10th green was knocked down and even a fish could be seen in a fairway.
"At least we got a little activity in today, so we're not completely stagnant," Woods said. "We've dealt with this before."
At one point, the media center, which is located in a large tent located across the street from the clubhouse, was evacuated due to a tornado warning. Members of the media went scurrying through the downpour and into the clubhouse, where they huddled in darkness with players, caddies and other officials to wait for power to be restored and the worst of the storm to pass.
Once it did, everyone dispersed. Just after 4 p.m., the decision was made to suspend play for the day.
Given the forecast going into the day, officials considered all options, including sending players off earlier to try to avoid the weather. In the end, they decided not to.
"Everybody was involved," Russell said. "Our television partners were totally involved in the conversation. We laid out the scenarios, and we decided we're going take a chance. We just got unlucky today.
"We looked at a lot of things. If we played early, it was going to be a tape‑delay situation. People were going to know who won before it came on television, so it defeats our television partners. They wanted to take a chance. They've been involved in several situations where we played early, and it didn't rain. It was just unfortunate."
Added tournament director Scott Wellington: "We made a collective decision, and it was unfortunate that it went the wrong way."
This marks the third time this year that a tournament finished a day later because of weather.
The Hyundai Tournament of Champions didn't begin until Monday because of high winds in Maui. It was cut to 54 holes and was completed the next day.
At the Farmers Insurance Open, fog wiped out an entire day before Woods went on to win in a Monday finish.
This will be the third Monday finish in th 35-year history of this tournament.