Well, the PGA Tour ought to be getting used to this. Friday afternoon, play was called when heavy afternoon rains made the round unplayable. With temperatures in the low 60s at the Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, South Carolina, the rain was coming down sideways in 15 to 20 mph winds with gusts to 30. It wasn’t a fair fight. It was the 11th tournament this season that was delayed or suspended due to weather.
Nobody in the afternoon wave finished their round and they will all be back in place at 8:00 am. Once the round is finished, the cut will be determined (it stands at +3) and the field will be re-paired. But it’s supposed to rain through the night with winds 15 to 20 with the probability of rain not falling to 30% until 11:00 am. So who knows how much water the course is going to take on through the night and how much tree debris will have to be cleaned up and how many bunkers will have to be drained and repaired.
It’s the trees that make Harbour Town. Over the years they have narrowed the fairways with their spreading branches and they can either protect from the ocean breezes or mask them. Many players lower their trajectories here just to keep the ball under the wind; get above the tree tops and no telling what will happen.
But the trees don’t just limit height of play and the width of play, they also guard the corners of the doglegs. Drive it on the wrong side of the dogleg and you may not be able to get to the green without hitting big draws and fades — not too much! It’s tight everywhere. The good players love it. By good players, I mean good ball strikers.
And one such good ball striker was K.J. Choi who was in the morning wave and leads at 5-under. He shot 4-under on the day with 3 birdies and a bogey on both sides.
Robert Allenby is 4-under, but he’s only played five holes of his second round.
The three guys in the clubhouse at 3-under are Scott Langley (see yesterday’s post), Luke Donald and Billy Hurley III who managed the only bogey-free round of the day. But he’s not too sure how he did it:
“That’s a really good question. I got it up and down a lot. I left myself kind of a lot of uphill chips and I really just pitched it really well around the greens. Certainly you’re going to miss greens out there as windy as it is. And around this place you’re going to miss greens, anyway. But I kind of just left it in good places. I hit a lot of quality shots.”
Langley had a tough day that ended well:
“I fought really hard. The first 10, 11 holes, I think I was 5‑over par, and nothing was really going right. Just a tough day. But I hung in there and managed to birdie the last two holes, which feels awfully nice.”
Donald is nothing if not a good ball striker and it really paid off in the morning conditions when he was just dealing with the wind:
“Yeah, you know, this course you’ve got to keep it in play and kind of plot your way around this golf course. Small greens, I hit 15 greens today. If I got a little hotter with the putter, it could have been really special. But still a very solid round. I’m glad I’m done. It looks like the weather is only getting worse.”
“Yeah, we had a little rain on 4 and 5, umbrellas were up. But similar conditions to yesterday, really. It looks like the afternoon guys are going to get pretty wet. It’s nice to get that good draw sometimes. Usually it evens itself out over the course of a year. But it looks like I’m on the right side of the draw this week.”
For the afternoon wave that still has to finish, it’s going to be a real test in patience that began Friday afternoon wondering if they were going to be called back to the course. And it starts again Saturday morning wondering when they’ll be able to begin. But you can’t be too clever in your planning because you have to be ready to go if it starts on time.
And you can’t judge by the rain. It may well be raining in the morning, but if the course drained well overnight, you’re going at 8 and you better be ready.
An excellent exercise in mastery: can you just do what you have to do and not have an opinion about it?