Heavy rain leaves the Sony Open course unplayable, looking more like Kauai's wettest place in the U.S.
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jan 14, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 2:18 a.m. HST, Jan 14, 2011
Hawaii's primetime weather winning streak skidded to a halt yesterday at Waialae Country Club.
The opening round of the Sony Open in Hawaii — the first full-field event of the PGA Tour season — was postponed. It is the first weather delay at Waialae since the 1989 Hawaiian Open.
The first round was re-scheduled for today, with the second tomorrow. The cut will be made to the "nearest number to 60 players," instead of the usual 70 and ties so the tour can try to play 36 holes Sunday and finish by 6 p.m.
Mark Russell, the tour's vice president of rules and competitions, said the final round would be completed Monday if the entire field was unable to finish.
Waialae has hosted a tour event since 1965. The 1989 tournament was shortened to 54 holes because of bad weather Friday and Saturday. The 1975 event ended on a Monday.
The course has soaked up about 4 inches of rain since Wednesday, when the Pro-Am was canceled, and has been under liquid siege the past three weeks. Russell described it as "under water" yesterday, with more rain expected.
"We just didn't think we could get it in tournament condition today," he added.
Bunkers were washed out, leaving a face of mud. Those are a fairly quick fix, but the bigger problem was water on the fairways, which had to be pumped out or moved to the side.
"Now it's just a matter of getting water off the course," new Waialae head pro Kevin Carll said yesterday. "We're trying to push it to the side, but literally every fairway has casual water. It's just wet. The last couple days there has been so much water, it's so saturated that any little bit of water doesn't go anywhere."
Before yesterday's round was delayed and then called off, golfers posted photos of water covering Waialae, taken from their hotel next door. Aaron Baddeley's showed the 10th green submerged, with the comment "Green could be a little slow."
The rare Hawaii weather blight might be a boon for the boomers, who don't rely on roll. Robert Garrigus, who lost in a playoff at last week's Hyundai Tournament of Champions, led the tour in driving last year. He was happy to see it wet, and a bit shocked at the rain's relentlessness.
He figures he has an advantage because he can carry the ball 300 yards. He hasn't hit many drivers at Waialae the past four years because it is relatively short and puts a premium on accuracy. That might change.
"It's going to be wet, so I might be able to swing away," Garrigus said. "With the freedom (that) last week gave me, I might just be hitting it every hole to have some fun. Since I started off so great I might just take that confidence into this week."
Tony Finau qualified Monday to play in his third PGA Tour event. He and brother Gipper signed to represent Turtle Bay Resort in 2009, when Tony was 19 and Gipper 18. Tony drove to Turtle Bay yesterday to practice.
He turned pro the day he graduated from high school and won $100,000 in his pro debut at "The Ultimate Game" in Las Vegas. He made the cut at the 2007 Milwaukee Open, while driving a few of the par-4 holes. He also likes to play post-rain.
"It's a narrow golf course, so I think it'll favor a longer hitter because you're not going to get too much roll and the greens will be a lot softer," Finau said. "So I think it's going to play a lot more score-able. We'll see after tomorrow what the scores are like."
According to the tour weather update, there is a 50 percent chance of rain today and 30 percent tomorrow, with showers possible late afternoon Sunday. Kona winds are expected all three days.
» TV ratings for last week's Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua were up 38 percent "across the board," said Mark Rolfing, whose charity was the host organization. Attendance approximately doubled in the first year of free entry.
» Ricky Barnes withdrew Wednesday with a bad back. Rookie Jim Renner will take his place. There are 27 rookies competing here.
Star-Advertiser writer Jason Kaneshiro contributed to this report.