Saturday, January 05, 2013
Strong winds force suspension at Kapalua
(Reuters) - The 2013 PGA Tour got off to a false start on Friday when first-round play at the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii was abandoned because of strong winds.
Following an earlier suspension in play due to adverse conditions at the Kapalua Resort, the players were summoned off the course as winds gusted up to 42mph (67.6 kph) and balls oscillated on the exposed green at the par-three second.
With no realistic hope of a resumption on Friday, PGA Tour rules official Slugger White announced the interrupted first round would be washed out and that the players would try to complete 36 holes on Saturday with a two-tee start.
"We started in almost unplayable conditions and it just got worse," White told reporters. "We tried to play and Mother Nature just wouldn't help us."
U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson had been the early leader, moving to three under par after just seven holes in the elite, winners-only event on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
Swede Jonas Blixt was at one under after five holes, a stroke in front of compatriot Carl Pettersson (after one hole) and Americans Kyle Stanley (four), Ryan Moore (three), Johnson Wagner (two) and Scott Piercy (one).
"It stings for me, but it's the way it goes," American Simpson said of the abandoned opening round at Kapalua. "I'm sure the Tour's decision was best for all the guys."
Earlier Simpson had described how challenging the conditions were on the hilly, par-73 Plantation Course.
"I feel like I'm in a hurricane ... my umbrella is breaking," he said.
FedExCup champion Brandt Snedeker, one of six players in the 30-man field who did not tee off in the opening round, had already prepared himself for a daunting afternoon at Kapalua.
"I just striped an eight-iron on the range that went about 50 yards," Snedeker said. "I probably could have caught it."
Stronger winds have been forecast for Saturday, with conditions expected to ease at Kapalua on Sunday and Monday.
Weather permitting, the fresh first round will start at 7:30 a.m. local (1730 GMT) on Saturday.
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)