KAPALUA, HAWAII (AP) - Another day in paradise brought yet another delay to the PGA Tour’s season opener.
Gusts so strong that rules officials had a hard time walking led to at least a four-hour delay Sunday in the Tournament of Champions, the event that can’t get started. The tour’s goal was to play 18 holes _ hopefully _ followed by 36 holes Monday.
But even as the wind was unrelenting, the prospect of a Tuesday finish entered the equation. Television became a factor, too, as the tour struggled to balance proper coverage of its winners-only event in Kapalua and the Sony Open, which starts Thursday in Honolulu.
Some players stored their clubs and wearily headed back to their hotels, a routine they know all too well.
“4 hour delay now. Back to the hotel. & not even looking good after then,” Ian Poulter tweeted.
It will be the first 54-hole event for this tournament since 1997 when it was held at rain-soaked La Costa north of San Diego. Adding to the frustration was a blue sky over the Plantation Course, offering splendid views of the rugged Maui coast _ along with flags crackling in 30 mph wind.
Most golf tournaments end Sunday. This one was hopeful just to start on Sunday.
Locals can’t recall ever seeing so many days of high wind. And when gusts top 40 mph, there are some greens where the ball won’t come to a rest. The tour did not mow the greens Sunday morning, and they are running at 8 1/2 on the Stimpmeter. But even in flat spots, the ball wouldn’t stay still.
“It was hard walking out there,” said Slugger White, vice president of rules and competition. “It was knocking me over.”
One of the laser towers toppled in the wind, and the anchors on other towers were coming loose. White said the flag on the 11th green was at a 45-degree angle. The back nine, particularly holes 10 through 13, are the most exposed on this mountainous course.
“The decisions aren’t hard,” Andy Pazder, the tour’s chief of operations, said of the delays.
The difficult part is television.
Already slated for a Monday finish so golf’s opener could steer clear of the NFL playoffs, the tournament could end Tuesday if the winds don’t subside. And with the next tournament starting Thursday in Honolulu, there would not be enough time for all the TV equipment to be taken down and loaded onto a barge for the 16-hour trip across choppy waters to Oahu.
“If we find out we cannot play today, that brings Tuesday squarely into the equation,” Pazder said.
He said if Kapalua were to be televised on a Tuesday, “the effect would be significant on Thursday _ and maybe even Friday _ for the Sony Open.”