Staying patient won’t be easy for the professional golfers competing at the Players Championship this weekend.
With extended storm delays on Thursday and Friday, 24 golfers including co-leader Tom Hoge did not even tee off for their second rounds at TPC Sawgrass on Saturday. Yes, that’s right, Saturday – by which stage three rounds should have been played.
Leading Australian Cameron Smith only managed one hole of his second round before darkness suspended play. Smith birdied that hole to get to four-under-par and two shots off the lead, so it was at least productive for the world No.10.
Tommy Fleetwood (three holes) is tied for the lead at six under alongside Tom Hoge.
But spare a thought for Australia’s Lucas Herbert. His reconnaissance trip to Augusta National – which Herbert has planned for next week ahead of his debut Masters – is in jeopardy given the Players Championship could finish on Tuesday.
The Players – golf’s unofficial fifth Major – is likelier to finish Monday afternoon. That’s because the PGA Tour will send out those who make the cut in groups of three players off two tees for both the third and final rounds. Still, a Tuesday finish is a possibility.
“It’s going to be hard because I’m supposed to be going to Augusta on Tuesday (of next week),” Herbert, who shot 74 for a 36-hole score of even par, told Australian Golf Digest when asked how he would stay patient this weekend.
“If we have a Tuesday finish it’s going to ruin some plans … We will see how it shakes, but I’ll be fine.”
If Herbert isn’t able to travel to Augusta on Tuesday, it will complicate his trip given Augusta National has a member’s tournament later in the week. The week after that, Herbert is due to play the World Golf Championships-Match Play in Austin, Texas.
That leaves one week – the week of the Valero Texas Open from March 31 to April 3 – for Herbert to get to Augusta National for the first time and soak up the awe of the hallowed turf before his first Masters.
That’s still an option, but Herbert was not complaining. “It’s fine; we’ll figure it out,” he said.
Conditions were brutal on Saturday at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, Florida. Winds gusted up to 65km/h and temperatures dipped to 10C later in the day.
Holes 18 and 17 wreaked havoc on the field, with the infamous par-3 17th recording just two birdies, 34 pars, 10 bogeys, 10 double-bogeys and four scores worse than double-bogey. It averaged a 0.695 over par for round 2 scores.
“My playing partner Brendon Todd made a birdie on 16 to take the honour on 17, so I was able to see what the wind did to his ball before I hit my tee shot,” Herbert said of No.17.
“I trapped a 9-iron it was like 121 metres to the middle of the green and I played it 139 metres, given it was into the wind.
“It was very brutal today at TPC Sawgrass. Some holes, like 15 and 18, if you miss the fairway, par is basically impossible and bogey is a really good score.
“It’s just the wind, and so much traffic through the greens when they have received as much rain as they have, they’re not rolling perfectly.
“In a way I kind of like it because this is my sort of weather; you can rule some guys out. As soon as it gets windy I feel I know what to do.”
Meanwhile, Jason Day shot 78 to drop to three over, alongside Cam Davis (76) and Marc Leishman (78). Adam Scott (one hole) and Matt Jones (one hole) are seven over.