There wasn’t supposed to be any rain on Friday at the Presidents Cup; just a 20% chance which means no rain, right? Well, as the sky darkened and the Golf Channel gave us a look at the weather radar, it was pretty eerie watching that 20%, with all its bright red blotches, rolling into Dublin, Ohio. And then it rained like hell and the players and the fans made a run for it.
At 5:45, two and a half hours later, play resumed until it got dark around 7:15. That gave Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley enough time to take out Thursday’s stars, Jason Day and Graham Delaet. A point for the U.S. But it also gave Ernie Els and juggernaut, Brendon de Jonge, enough time to dash the hopes of the newly constituted team of Bill Haas and Hunter Mahan.
That left the Americans ahead, 5½ to 4½ with four matches on the course:
- Sticker and Spieth were 3UP through 14 over a disheartened and over-matched Branden Grace and Richard Sterne. That can sometimes rejuvenate a losing team, but the Americans only have to hold fast for two more holes.
- In a much more up-in-the-air match, Simpson and Snedeker trail Cabrera and Leishman by 1 with 5 to play.
- So far, Woods and Kuchar have managed to tame the great team of Oosthuizen and Schwartzel. They are 3UP through 12, but the Internationals are not going to roll over. These are guys who’ve won the British and the Masters.
- And, 4DN through 11, Dufner and Johnson have their work cut out for them with Scott and Matsuyama. With one great approach shot by Matsuyama to a foot on Thursday, he now knows he belongs and is a great partner for Scott.
As everyone was making their way in, it was announced that the pairings for Saturday morning’s Four-Ball matches would be made imminently. But somebody had the good grace to let everyone get through the media sessions so they could get on the bus back to the hotel and dinner. The pairings could wait until the morning as Friday’s matches finish up.
But make no mistake, this is going to be a brutal day for the players. Fred Couples announced that the team bus would be ready to leave for the course at 5:00. So everyone has to get up around, what, 3:30 or so? We have showers to take and ladies in attendance who will need to attend to makeup and hair, etc.
Steve Carmen of the PGA Tour staff laid out the master plan:
After meeting with the captains we thought in the best interests of the competition that it would be more appropriate to do the third round pairings tomorrow morning, approximately 8:00.
The plan is to resume tomorrow morning at 7:30, do the third round pairings at 8:00 and try and start the third round at 8:33 with an hour delay of the original published starting times.
That still gives us the opportunity to try to finish both rounds tomorrow before dark. Our original plan was to try to finish about ten minutes to 6:00 for television so that hour delay would make it ten minutes to seven, which is about 20 minutes before sunset. So that’s in an ideal world obviously.
But, you know, when it comes to the PGA Tour and weather, it’s not always an ideal world. In this case the forecast is for a 30% chance of isolated thunderstorms in the afternoon. So there is some time Sunday morning to finish Saturday’s matches if need be:
Going forward, we’ll make our best effort to try and finish as we’ve done with this plan for tomorrow to try to finish on time tomorrow night and then finish the singles on Sunday. We have about five hours on Sunday morning that we can make up time, as well, because I think the approximate starting time for the singles is like 12:05.
But say Saturday’s matches did complete on time, there are still some weather considerations for Sunday:
We are waiting till tomorrow to get the more current and accurate models. The models that we’ve had today, according to Stewart Williams, our meteorologist, are pretty widespread where the system is going to be and when it’s going to get here.
We felt like tomorrow, after we get the more current models, maybe we’ll have a more accurate picture of what the time frame is going to be and based on that information, we would make the decision whether we were going to try and play early [on Sunday] to try and beat the weather or go with the original plan.
But what about the worst-case scenario where they got thrown into Monday and then couldn’t get the matches in before dark? Then what, Tuesday?
Unfortunately I didn’t bring the [Cup] document with me, but in the document, yes, Monday is a consideration. And I believe the document tells you that if we don’t finish by sunset on Monday, then the team with the most points at that point would be declared the winner.
So play hard boys and hope the rains hold off!