Technically, the WGC-Cadillac Championship is not in a rain delay; it’s in the consequences of the two and a half hour delay they had on the Blue Monster at Trump National Doral in Miami.
Significant weather was forecasted and it came rumbling in with a vengeance causing a delay at 2:22 pm. The thunderstorms and winds were so impressive, many of the players were surprised when the Tour announced that everybody should be back in position at 4:45. Some were back in their rooms ordering room service and had to hustle back. And some weren’t prepared mentally. Jason Dufner was:
Yeah, you know, I’ve been out here, this is my ninth year now, so you expect to play until they tell you otherwise. The storms obviously didn’t look good, but mindset when that horn blows is to kind of get ready to have a restart whenever that might be, and if they tell you otherwise, then fantastic.
So I was doing things I needed to do to be ready to go. Don’t think it affected me too much. It was just tough out there.
To say that he was “doing things” to be ready was kind of an understatement:
I got a stretch from my trainer. I got a bit of a tissue massage. Had a little food. Talked to the wife a little bit. And then we were ready to go.
Not only was Dufner ready to go, he ended up being one of five players tied for the lead at 3-under when they called it due to darkness at 5:57 pm. He was joined by Harris English, Hunter Mahan, Francesco Molinari and Patrick Reed. English joked that it was a little weird when the weather chased the gallery away:
Yeah, it was a little weird. I said, I feel like I’m playing junior golf again out here. There’s nobody watching our group. You’re just out there, you’d make birdie, nobody would clap. Just like we were playing junior golf again.
Only six players completed their rounds; everybody else will be back in position at 8:45 am and round two tee times will begin as scheduled at 11:00 am off split tees in threesomes.
There were seven players who are at 2-under including: Russell Henley, Charl Schwartzel, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Louis Oosthuizen, Zach Johnson and Adam Scott.
Tiger Woods was 2-over through 10 holes when the lights went out, but he has a plan as usual:
Should be a long day for all of us. Hopefully tomorrow I can get back out there in the morning, play well and work back to even par by the end of the first round. Then shoot a low one in the afternoon.
But the best news for Tiger fans is that his back feels fine, no issues:
Felt a lot better today. Warmup was good and I felt good all day even through the delay. I’m ready to go back out tomorrow and play well.
The other big question of the day that everybody was dying to be answered was what did the players think of the changes by Gil Hanse to the Blue Monster? Dufner, once again, had some very thoughtful opinions:
I think you see a lot of things with 1 and 2, they are completely different and I think those are good changes. I think they make the holes extremely difficult compared to what they were.
In general, they have brought a lot of strategy into play on the golf course. This used to be a golf course where you grab your driver on every hole, swing for the fences and play from there. You can’t get away with that here at Doral anymore.
You’re going to have to figure out sometimes, like I said on 14, that hole doesn’t really fit my eye, especially with the wind pushing. So I kind of laid back and had 236, but I was in the fairway and able to score. A couple instances on the front, I probably made the wrong selection today. I should have played a little less aggressive with the driver and laid back, like on No. 7, almost impossible to hit that fairway for me.
Harris English finished his round and he agreed with the challenges the new design creates:
It’s just so — especially with the wind today, it’s very, very hard to hit it in the fairway. You can hit decent drives and I feel like if you miss it at all, you’re going to be in a bunker and it makes it very difficult from there.
I think they did a really good job re‑designing the golf course, although I’ve never played it before. It’s a tough golf course. I know Mr.Trump wanted a very tough test on the Blue Monster and I think that’s what he’s got.
We’ll know more as the tournament progresses, but for now it appears that we have a course more than worthy of one of the four World Golf Championships.