After a seven-week break from the conclusion of the 2017 season, LPGA players were anxious to get back on the course as the tour’s 2018 campaign got underway Thursday at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic. But thus far it’s been a game of hurry up and wait at the Ocean Club.
High winds caused high scores – Brooke Henderson’s opening 68 was the highest score to lead the first round of an LPGA event since 2014 – and slow play, with the final four groups unable to complete their rounds before darkness set in Thursday night. The conditions were even worse come Friday, when 89 minutes into the start of the second round officials had to suspend play due to wind that make it almost impossible for balls to settle on greens.
“Yesterday we were able to play and complete the round, but we did have an isolated ball move here and there, but it wasn’t much and we could get it right back into play,” said Sue Witters, the LPGA’s vice president of tour rules and competition. “This morning was a different story. The winds are up from what they were and we got to the point on 13 where we could not get a ball to stay at rest on the green.”
Henderson bogeyed the opening hole of her second round, falling back into a share of the lead with Australia’s Sarah Jane Smith and Spain’s Luna Sobron Galmes at four-under par. Another Australian, Katherine Kirk, was at three under.
Winds were blowing a constant 50 kilometres per hour with gusts in the 60s. Worse, they were expected to remain that high throughout the day, which is why officials pulled the plug on the round so early.
With the sun out, we’re not usually fans of tournaments giving up on a day so early, until you see what the players appeared to be facing.
Wind. Wind. More Wind. Play has been suspended for the day @PureSilkLPGA pic.twitter.com/LISI8Vq8RD
— LPGA (@LPGA) January 26, 2018
So now the second round is scheduled to resume at 7:30am on Saturday. However, weather forecasts predict morning winds of 40km/h, with gusts to 60km/h. Speeds are expected to slightly drop in the afternoon. And Sunday’s forecast has similar conditions.
Oh, and Monday is more of the same but with the added treat of potential thunderstorms.
In other words, getting in 72 holes by Monday, let alone Sunday, could be tricky, even with just a 108-player field to deal with through the first two rounds.
Wicked weather isn’t anything knew for the tournament. In the inaugural playing of the event in 2013, rain was so strong that it flooded the course and forced officials to play three 12-hole rounds. Tee times in last year’s final round were pushed up to avoid forecasted bad weather – with Brittany Lincicome beating Lexi Thompson in a playoff after both finished at 26-under par.
“Tomorrow, hopefully will be more like yesterday,” said an optimistic Witters. “The winds will come down a bit, and then Sunday is even better than that. Sunday should be out of the four days the least windy, but it will still be windy.”
“Based on the current weather forecast at the 2018 Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, the LPGA has decided to take 72 holes off the table and instead focus on finishing 54 holes on Sunday,” Witters said in a statement. “We should be able to complete the second round on Saturday and the final round on Sunday.”