Multiple scenarios loom along with bad weather at The Barclays

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Bad weather held up play Thursday, and Hurricane Irene will result in more delays.
August 25, 2011
Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM

EDISON, N.J. -- Thanks to the looming threat of Hurricane Irene, no one knows for sure when The Barclays will end ... other than it likely will not end on schedule. Not if forecasts of tropical storms on Sunday prove accurate.

Sergio Garcia thinks he knows when it will finish. "Saturday or Tuesday or Friday next week," he said with a smile.

Indeed, there's really no way of knowing exactly how the next few days will play out, not with heavy rain expected that could wipe out a full day and quite possibly prevent Plainfield Country Club -- which was already hit by heavy rain last week -- from recovering the next day.

Talk had circulated among the players that a 36-hole finish on Saturday to beat the oncoming weather might be a possibility. Ryan Palmer even went so far as to call that solution "genius." But it's not going to happen.

Slugger White, vice-president of rules and competition for the PGA TOUR, said there simply was not enough daylight to play two rounds in one day. And, he added, the weather forecast for Saturday afternoon does not look good, with a 40 percent chance of showers and isolated thunderstorms.

With Friday expected to be a good weather day, the odds are good that the first two rounds will be completed, even though a 3 hour, 16-minute weather delay prevented the first round from being completed Thursday.

Provided that two rounds are in the books and that Sunday is expected to be wiped out due to Irene, that could mean the possibility of a Monday finish; a Tuesday finish (provided certain provisions in the bylaws are met); or even a 54-hole event. The last option is not one that anybody wants, particularly the players.

"We as players want to play," said Harrison Frazar after shooting a 7-under 64, the best completed round of the day. "We want it to be legitimate. We want it to be a full event. The TOUR wants to do that. So we are going to do everything we can."

Added Charley Hoffman after shooting a 5-under 66: "I'm pretty sure 100 percent of us want to play 72 holes out here ... But if this place gets 10 inches of rain two weeks in a row, I don't know how playable this golf course is going to be on Tuesday if we do go to Tuesday.

"We gotta do what we gotta do. If it ends up being 36 (holes), 54 (holes) -- who knows."

White said there is a scenario that could result in a 54-hole event but only as a last resort. "It could be there, not right now, but it could be there," he said of the 54-hole possibility.

The uncertainty of the finish could mean players will take an aggressive approach whenever they do find themselves on the course.

"Who knows what's going to happen with the completion of the tournament," said Matt Kuchar, who was 7 under through 16 holes when play was suspended due to darkness. "So you kind of want to keep going as low as you can as quickly as you can."

White is hoping to make a decision by Friday at noon on what to do with Saturday's schedule, since not only players, but volunteers, fans and many other groups will need to make arrangements.

"I think by noon tomorrow, we'll know pretty much what Saturday and especially what Sunday is going to bring us," White said.

White also said that crews at the tournament will start preparing for the heavy winds that are expected to blow through the course by pulling the mesh from the TV towers and possibly taking the scoreboards down so that they don't become "projectiles out there."

Safety is the primary concern.

"Years and years ago at The Honda classic at Weston Hills, we had stuff that was just blowing around and it was very, very dangerous," White said. "We are not going to take that chance, I can guarantee you."

One other factor to consider: the next event in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, next week's Deutsche Bank Championship, does not start until Friday due to its traditional Labor Day finish.

White was asked if that extra day provides The Barclays with any leeway. He said it does -- but with certain provisions that could involve PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem.

"The only time we would ever go to Tuesday is if we got half the field finished on Monday," White said. "Now, in order to go to Tuesday, if we didn't get to that, then the Commissioner would have to step in and override the regulation. He's the only one that could do that unilaterally. So I've got him on fast dial right now."

The players hope that any extra time will allow them to complete 72 holes.

"Maybe we have got an extra day up our sleeve because of the Boston thing starting later," said Adam Scott after completing his round of 66. "But I mean, we can only deal with what we are given. Hopefully tomorrow is great and the weather forecasters are all wrong and then we get a good weekend somehow."

But Mother Nature hasn't been kind this week. First, an earthquake during Tuesday's practice round. Now the possibility of a Hurricane.

"That's pretty special," White said, cracking a smile. "Welcome to New Jersey."