Sunday play at BMW washed out

Writing from Newtown Square, Pennsylvania

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Slugger White, the PGA Tour’s vice president of rules and competition, said it best.

“We’ve got kind of a mess out there,” White said of the conditions at Aronimink Golf Club, site of this year’s BMW Championship and, the way things are going, a future America’s Cup regatta.

As he said that around 11 a.m. Eastern Time, it was raining. Three hours later, it was still raining, and play was called for the day.

The plan is to try to play the final round on Monday. PGA Tour meteorologist Joe Halverson says there’s a window from about 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, which could allow for preparing the course – fairways are soaked and greens have casual water – and playing the last 18 holes before a potential for afternoon thunderstorms increases. If at least half the field finishes, play would be concluded on Tuesday. If half the field doesn’t finish, the scores revert to 54 holes. But the tour wouldn’t start on Monday if there wasn’t a reasonable chance half the field wouldn’t finish.

Plans call for tee times to run from 7:30 a.m. to 9:20 a.m. Eastern time. If play starts on time, it will conclude around 2 p.m. Golf Channel will televise beginning at 9 a.m. Central, 10 a.m. Eastern.

Getting in 72 holes is a Tour tradition, though some tournaments end up as 54-hole affairs. The 1987 Western Open was one, starting with 18 holes on Saturday and 36 on Sunday after Butler National Golf Club was inundated with more than 14 inches of rain in the week before the Western, and more in tournament week.

In this case, there’s an extra imperative to play four rounds. The 30 qualifiers for the Tour Championship are set from the BMW finish, and those just outside the top 30 – including Jordan Spieth, who’ll finish a tournament short of the 25 he has to play if he doesn’t qualify. Through 54 holes, he’s projected 31st, and thus out of the field.

Justin Rose leads at 17-under 193, with Rory McIlroy and Xander Schauffele tied for second a stroke back. Tommy Fleetwood and Rickie Fowler are joint fourth at 15-under 195. There are 15 players within five strokes of Rose, including Tiger Woods (12-under 198), and 19 within six strokes. Spieth is at 6-under 204.

With another inch of rain falling on an already inundated course by 2 p.m. (2.4 inches fell overnight Thursday into Friday), the chance for any play on Sunday was unlikely, but the Tour kept assessing until it was obvious they would run out of daylight.

WGA vice presidents of tournaments Vince Pellegrino said adding a day will affect the week’s bottom line.

“We don’t know how much,” Pellegrino said, noting it depends on how large Monday’s crowd is. But vendors and the many people working the 12 hospitality areas and the merchandise tent have to be paid for an extra day.

White has been with the PGA Tour forever, and knows his messes.

“We had iffy (low-lying) fairways, sloshy tee boxes,” White said. “The greens were fine and bunkers were OK, but we had nowhere to move the water. We’re shoving sand against the tide.

“We’ll do everything we can to play tomorrow. We’ll just see what Mother Nature gives us. If it stopped raining, we could get ready in a couple hours.”

If is the key word.

Tim Cronin

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