Updates from THE PLAYERS Championship
March 14, 2022
By Staff , PGATOUR.COM
- March 14, 2022
Behind the scenes on Friday at THE PLAYERS
UPDATED MONDAY, MARCH 14 (10:55 a.m. ET): Final-round tee times for THE PLAYERS Championship will be from 11 a.m. - 1:01 p.m. ET in threesomes off Nos. 1 and 10. (Click here for how to follow the action live)
UPDATED MONDAY, MARCH 14 (8 a.m. ET): Round 3 resumed at 8 a.m. ET.
UPDATED SUNDAY, MARCH 13 (7:32 p.m. ET): Round 3 at THE PLAYERS was suspended due to darkness at 7:32 p.m. ET. Round 3 is scheduled to resume at 8 a.m. Monday morning.
UPDATED SUNDAY, MARCH 13 (3:15 p.m. ET): Round 3 got underway at 3:15 p.m. ET, one hour later than originally scheduled. The 71 players who made the cut teed off in threesomes off both tees. The final group of Sam Burns, Tom Hoge and Harold Varner III is scheduled to tee off at 5:16 p.m.
UPDATED SUNDAY, MARCH 13 (1:35 p.m. ET): The approximate start of Round 3 has been adjusted to 2:50 p.m. ET, with tee times running to 4:50 p.m. ET.
UPDATED SUNDAY, MARCH 13 (10:20 a.m. ET): Round 3 tee times will be approximately 2:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. ET, with players in threesomes off of Nos. 1 and 10. The ball will be played as it lies for the third and fourth rounds after lift, clean and place was in use for the first two rounds.
UPDATED SUNDAY, MARCH 13 (8:30 a.m. ET): The second round of THE PLAYERS Championship resumed at 8:15 a.m. ET.
UPDATED SATURDAY, MARCH 12 (6:29 p.m. ET): The second round of THE PLAYERS was suspended at 6:29 p.m. ET for darkness. It will resume at 8:15 a.m. Sunday. Sixteen of the 24 groups originally scheduled to tee off Friday afternoon began their second rounds Saturday (no one completed more than four holes Saturday); the remaining eight groups will begin their second round Sunday morning. Twenty-two players originally scheduled to start their second round Friday morning will complete their second round Sunday; none of those players have more than four holes remaining.
UPDATED SATURDAY, MARCH 12 (Noon ET): Play resumed at noon ET. Second round tee times for the first wave will be from noon-2:01 p.m. ET. Second wave tee times for Round 2 are scheduled for approximately 5-7:01 p.m ET.
UPDATED SATURDAY, MARCH 12 (10:30 a.m. ET): Play will resume at noon ET.
UPDATED SATURDAY, MARCH 12 (7:15 a.m. ET): Due to severe weather this morning, Round 1 will not resume until 12 p.m. ET at the earliest.
UPDATED FRIDAY, MARCH 11 (3 p.m. ET): Play was officially called for the day at 3 p.m. ET and will not resume any earlier than 11 a.m. ET on Saturday because of forecasted storms in the morning. Forty-seven players still need to complete their first round.
“Unfortunately, the weather conditions are not providing us any relief,” Chief Referee Gary Young said Friday afternoon.
A “severe” weather system is projected to arrive somewhere between 8-10 a.m. Saturday.
“Our desire is to not have anyone on the property at that time,” Young said.
TPC Sawgrass has received nearly 3 inches of rainfall in the previous 48 hours, Young said Friday afternoon. The numerous delays mean THE PLAYERS will have a Monday finish for the first time since 2005.
“We are into a Monday finish,” Young said. “We know that.”
Young said further delays may not leave enough time for a potential playoff, however. THE PLAYERS conducts a three-hole playoff in the result of a tie at the end of regulation.
There is no rain in the forecast for Saturday afternoon or Sunday, but players will face with cold temperatures and high winds. The overnight temperature between Saturday and Sunday is expected to drop into the 30s.
UPDATED FRIDAY, MARCH 11 (12:40 p.m. ET): Multiple weather delays over the first two days of THE PLAYERS, combined with an ominous forecast, mean the tournament may be headed for its first Monday finish since 2005.
After less than half the field completed its first round on Thursday, just four hours of play were completed Friday morning before heavy rain forced players from the course for the second straight day. Forty-eight players had yet to complete their opening rounds when play was suspended because of standing water on the greens and approaching lightning.
Despite grounds staff furiously squeegeeing water from the greens, the persistent precipitation finally conquered the course and players were forced off at 11:15 a.m. ET.
On Thursday, storms forced players from the course for more than four hours, allowing just 69 players to complete the first round. If players cannot return to the course Friday afternoon, THE PLAYERS is likely headed for its first Monday finish since Fred Funk’s incredible win as a 48-year-old in 2005.
“I would say, if we do not get back out on the golf course by the end of the day, then we are into that situation,” chief referee Gary Young said. “We've been crunching some numbers, and yes, we are coming close to that point now. We've received about 2 1/2 inches of rain at this point in the last 24 hours. The golf course has reached a point where it's unplayable, and we will ride this out as long as we can this afternoon. If a window of opportunity presents itself, we'll get back out there later today.”
Young said the forecast suggested this outcome was more hopeful then probable. While the storm could pass, the expected deluge could leave the course in need of some significant love before it is playable again.
“In our meetings with Wade Stettner, our meteorologist, and looking at future models, there is the possibility that this area that's settling in right now could move slightly to the north. We are right on the border of the models that we were looking at,” Young said when explaining why players were not being sent home early.
“We were on the southern border of this system, and if for some reason it lifts a little bit to the north, it could provide us a window of opportunity. At that point we've got to evaluate the golf course and make sure that it is in proper condition for us to get back out there.”
As the players sought shelter, the forecast showed continuing rain and lighting at least through 4 p.m. ET. As for Saturday, more severe winds have prompted a gale warning. Officials are likely to send players off split tees after the second round is completed and a cut made, and are also considering foregoing a repairing between the third and fourth rounds.
“At this point, we're just battling, trying to make up for lost time. We also know that the conditions we're going to be facing tomorrow with the winds that are predicted, the pace of play is going to be slower as well,” Young added.
“In speaking with Wade, they're anticipating some winds that could be in the area of 60 miles per hour as it comes through. So, we're going to prepare for that overnight. The superintendent and his crew are going to need proper time to pick up debris and get the golf course back in condition. So, there's a lot of variables involved.”
UPDATED FRIDAY, MARCH 11 (11:15 a.m. ET): Play was stopped for Round 1 at 11:15 a.m. ET due to dangerous weather as a large storm system continued to hit TPC Sawgrass. The first round resumed at 7:15 a.m. ET and the morning wave of Round 1 was completed at 7:48 a.m. ET.
UPDATED THURSDAY, MARCH 10 (6:36 p.m. ET): The first round of THE PLAYERS Championship was suspended due to darkness at 6:36 p.m. ET. The first round is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. ET on Friday. The first wave of second-round tee times is scheduled for approximately 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET. Fifty-four of the 72 players in the afternoon wave began the first round Thursday (none completed the round). No one in Thursday’s afternoon wave completed more than seven holes Thursday before play was suspended due to darkness.
UPDATED THURSDAY, MARCH 10 (3:14 p.m. ET): Round 1 resumed at 3:14 p.m. ET. Nearly a half-inch of rain (0.45 inches) fell on TPC Sawgrass during the delay of 4 hours, 14 minutes. Sixty-nine of the 72 players in the morning wave completed the first round Thursday (all but the group of Hank Lebioda, Henrik Norlander and Taylor Pendrith).
UPDATED THURSDAY, MARCH 10 (11 a.m. ET): More than one inch of rain (1.3 inches) fell overnight at TPC Sawgrass, delaying the start of the first round one hour to 7:45 a.m. Play was suspended at 11 a.m. ET due to dangerous weather. Seventy-two players were able to get their rounds started before the suspension. Will Zalatoris (11 holes), Harold Varner III (11 holes) and Tommy Fleetwood (10 holes) were tied for the lead at 4 under before the horn sounded.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 9: PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – PGA TOUR officials are confident they’re prepared for what is shaping up as a potentially tricky stretch of weather at THE PLAYERS Championship.
On the eve of the opening round at TPC Sawgrass the extended forecast calls for a high likelihood of thunderstorms over the opening three days. Perhaps more ominously, there could be four different wind directions throughout the tournament.
As an ominous precursor, the Stadium Course was evacuated early Wednesday afternoon as storms approached the area.
Saturday could prove especially challenging with 20-30 mph sustained winds, and even heavier gusts, expected out of the west/northwest. Thursday brings an 80% chance of storms and winds of 10-18 mph out of the west/southwest. The forecast for Friday sits at 90% chance of storms with an east/southeast wind of 6-12 mph.
“Rain and thunderstorms are likely both Thursday and Friday as a frontal boundary drops into northern Florida and stalls,” TOUR meteorologist Wade Stettner said in his forecast Wednesday. “This front is forecast to bring periods of rain with embedded thunderstorms over the two-day period.”
Temperatures are also expected to drop significantly on Sunday with a high of just 54 degrees. The wind will switch to a 12-22 mph challenge out of the north/northeast in what, weather depending, would be the final round.
“By Saturday morning a strong cold front is forecast to arrive and bring additional thunderstorms,” Stettner’s forecast continued. “This front should clear Ponte Vedra Beach by noon Saturday with dry conditions for the remainder of the weekend. Gusty winds will develop behind the front on Saturday with peak gusts over 30mph at times. Much colder temperatures are forecast this weekend.”
In anticipation of the high weekend winds, and the potential for weather delays over the opening two days, officials will pay especially close attention to green speeds and pin locations during the set-up process. With the natural drainage on and around the greens only a few pin locations would be severely affected by rain, but high winds could render some spots unusable. For example, it’s unlikely there would be a hole close to the water at the par-4 fourth and island 17th holes.
“We will once again meet this afternoon with the agronomy staff with the latest information at our disposal and obviously adjust our plans accordingly,” Chief Referee Gary Young said. “We are confident we will be as prepared as possible for what lies ahead. We are meticulous in every aspect but it is certainly fair to say Saturday’s winds are a point of focus for us, particularly as we could be finishing up Friday’s round on Saturday, so that affects Friday’s set up as well.
“We need to keep in mind we could have a good amount of Friday’s round playing in that Saturday wind,” Young continued, “and they are opposite winds, so we need to find something that works well for both and that’s a challenge.”
While in perfect weather officials would prepare and maintain firm and fast greens, the current forecast calls for a gradual decrease from top speed – as the tournament begins Thursday – to as much as an inch or an inch and a half slower speeds by Saturday. That would presumably eliminate the possibility of balls oscillating and even rolling away on the putting surfaces. Officials will take care to make it a gradual change rather than a big overnight shift so players don’t have to make significant adjustments.
“Thankfully we’ve got time to make adjustments because we know what’s coming, so that helps in the planning,” Young said. “We have our target speeds for the high winds and we just need to get to that as slowly as possible.”
With potential rain and wind in the forecast, our Rules and Agronomy teams discuss the game plan for pin locations on No. 17. pic.twitter.com/g4a6dBNFEV— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 8, 2022
Defending champion Justin Thomas was hoping for the best but also preparing himself for the worst.
“I've heard horror stories from Tiger and Freddy and some guys about having to hit 5- or 6-iron into 17 on those cold north wind days, and I haven't experienced that,” Thomas said. “When you get wind and cold temperatures like that, it's just a different animal, and it's really just a survival-type thing.
“It's not like I'm going into this week preparing any differently… I don't get too wrapped up in the draw or what's the weather going to be like Friday or what's the wind going to be, because at the end of the day, weather people are wrong all the time.”
Adam Scott, the 2004 champion, has experienced tough weather at TPC Sawgrass before. THE PLAYERS the year prior to his victory here, and the tournament the year after it, were played in tricky weather.
“It’s a long time ago, but I was around for Davis Love’s win in 2003 when it was horrible, and Fred Funk’s win in 2005, that wasn’t good weather either,” Scott said ahead of his 20th PLAYERS start. “I think we played almost 36 holes on Monday that year because of all the weather delays. When this sort of weather happens the guy who really has his game in shape comes to the top. He can make those adjustments on the fly when he stands on the tee and it is a different wind than the day before, but you just easily pick the shot you need to compensate. Those in control of their swings will be the ones to watch.”