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November 14 2013

6:40 PM

Observations from Thursday

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Straight to the point: Brian Stuard specializes in finding fairways.

By: Fred Albers, PGA TOUR.COM Correspondent

PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico --  Greg Norman built one dynamite golf course and that’s the reason this tournament will continue.

Norman used dynamite in construction of El Camaleon, blasting draining canals throughout the course. They are pleasing aesthetically and help with draining.

Those canals are being tested this week.

The area has already received some 80 inches of rain in the last six months and the ground is super saturated.

It somehow seems appropriate that in a year plagued with severe weather, the final tournament of the 2013 calendar year would have rain delays.

The first stoppage was for the possibility of lightning, but later in the afternoon a storm developed that appeared to have been ordered up by the special effects crew from “The Wizard of Oz.”

The weekend forecast is promising but it might take until Saturday night for the tournament to get back on schedule.

Observations:

Drainage: There is one problem area on the golf course. It is the low-lying section some 320 yards off the seventh tee. While designing the course, Norman decided to leave a large sinkhole in play. It’s technically called a cenote and the Mayans used the sinkholes for both water gathering and ceremonial sacrifice.  With the soggy turf it might serve both functions again this week.

Scoring stretch: The El Camaleon course is re-routed for tournament play with holes 7-8-9 becoming the first, second and third holes. The change was made for traffic flow but it also created a very scoreable stretch of golf as holes 5-6-7 now feature two reachable par fives and a short par four. Just before the rain arrived, Alvaro Quiros took advantage of the fifth hole to record an eagle and move to 4 under. The long hitting Spaniard is averaging 301.1 yards per drive and hit one drive measured at 323 yards.

Tropics: Brian Stuard is from Michigan but apparently feels right at home in the tropics. He’s finished T5 at the Sony Open in Hawaii and T4 at the Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com. His success might be more determined by ball flight than by latitude. Stuard is very good at flighting his golf ball in windy conditions and hitting fairways. Stuard hit 66 percent of his fairways in the 2013 season and is right at that number in the opening round.

Autographs: David Duval does not get into many tournaments and hasn’t had much success on the golf course in recent years but he has never lost his touch with the public. Duval is a PGA TOUR player who willingly signs autographs and makes the person feel as if it’s his pleasure to deliver his signature. The former British Open Champion was waiting through a delay when he was hesitantly asked for an autograph. Duval responded with a smile and said “thank you for asking.”

Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.

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