Snow halts opening round at Match Play
BY DOUG FERGUSON Associated Press
Thursday, February 21, 2013
2/21/13 at 4:14 AM
MARANA, Ariz. - The best 64 golfers in the world got together for the first time this season and a snow fight broke out.
In the most bizarre episode of a PGA Tour season already filled with wacky weather, the opening round of the Match Play Championship lasted only 3 1/2 hours Wednesday until it was suspended by a winter storm that covered Dove Mountain with nearly 2 inches of snow.
Rickie Fowler wasn't firing at flags. He was slinging snowballs.
There was no "snowman" on anyone's scorecard - golf slang for an 8 - but there was one built on a green at the practice range.
"I've never actually played golf to the point where we've actually stopped for snow, which is kind of crazy," said Jason Day of Australia, who was 6 up through 10 holes over Zach Johnson.
Ten matches had not even started when players were called off the course as slush was starting to form on the greens. Two hours later, there was a blanket of snow as temperatures dipped as low as 33 degrees. The rest of the day was called off.
"I've seen snow on the course when I was a kid, but nothing like that on any of the tours," said Rory McIlroy, whose match, along with Tiger Woods', was among those that never got started.
The opening round was to resume at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, and the second round would start sometime that afternoon. The 64-man field is cut in half after each round, and with sunshine in the forecast the rest of the week, it should not be difficult to get caught up.
So much for a tour that follows the sun.
Ian Poulter's only other tournament this year was on Maui for the Tournament of Champions, where it took four days just to get started because of high wind, and then the 54-hole event was over 29 hours after it started.
And now this.
"I can't believe it. When have we ever seen that?" he said, taking off his rain gear in front of his locker.
In only a short amount of time for golf, there was some impressive play considering the conditions.
Tulsa-area resident Bo Van Pelt, who took three shots to get out of a bunker early in his match against John Senden, won six straight holes - only two of them with birdies - to build a 5-up lead through 12. Matt Kuchar was 3 up over Hiroyuki Fujita through 14 holes, while defending champion Hunter Mahan, a former Oklahoma State standout, was 4 up at the turn over Matteo Manassero.
"We knew this was coming, so I think we were all somewhat prepared for the cold and everything," Mahan said. "We also didn't think we were actually high enough to get snow, and get this amount. We go sleet and ice, and you can't putt or hit shots with ice coming at you."
The best competition might have come after play ended.
Fowler, another former OSU star, wound up and fired snowballs from the parking lots. The caddies spent an hour having a snowball fight, although most of the players stayed inside.
Original Print Headline: Snow halts opening round
Match Play Championship
Golf fans walk by the tournament golf shop as snow falls during the Match Play Championship golf tournament on Wednesday in Marana, Ariz. Play was suspended for the day. ROSS D. FRANKLIN / Associated Press