SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods is going to have to wait to pursue another win at Torrey Pines.
A thick fog shrouded the course along the Pacific bluffs on Saturday and essentially wiped out the entire day at the Farmers Insurance Open. Woods, a six-time winner of this tournament, had a two-shot lead and never even bothered coming to the golf course. Three players completed one hole — and that was after a three-hour delay.
Players were to resume the third round Sunday morning and go as long as daylight allowed, and then finish Monday.
And that’s a best-case scenario.
In a bizarre twist, tour officials were hopeful of rain and a little wind Sunday morning, two elements that most golfers dread. That’s what is needed, however, to keep the fog away from Torrey Pines and allow the tournament to resume.
“When Mother Nature doesn’t want you to play, you can’t play,” said Mark Russell, the tour vice-president of competition.
They did just about everything else.
Lucas Glover warmed up three times, at one point passed the time with a little trickery. He lined up two balls in the direction of the range, and hit them with a wedge so that one ball went straight in the air, and Jerry Kelly took a baseball swing with an inverted club and made contact.
Through four tournaments this year, the PGA Tour already had had its share of weather problems. This will be the second tournament that doesn’t finish on the scheduled day. The Tournament of Champions at Kapalua didn’t even start until Monday, the day it was supposed to end, because of 40 mph gusts. It had to be reduced to 54 holes and was completed on Tuesday.
Woods was at 11-under 133 and didn’t need to come to the course with all the delays because he was in the last group with Billy Horschel and Casey Wittenberg. Horschel spent part of his day getting advice through text messages on how to play with Woods.
He’ll get to see plenty of Woods over the next two days.
Russell said there would not be a 54-hole cut for 87 players — typically there is a cut when the field is more than 78 players on Saturday. Instead, they will take a short lunch break and go back out, racing time when fog allows. The groups will stay the same until the tournament is over.
“I think the coolest thing that can come from it is that I think it looks like we’re going to be paired together for 36 holes,” Horschel said. “So it’s a pretty cool thing that’s going to happen. It’s just going to be a fun day tomorrow and Monday. So we’ll see how it goes.”
Horschel also is among 17 players who are entered in the qualifier Monday to get into the Phoenix Open, which starts next week. Russell said those players have been given the latest tee times for the qualifier — the latest is 1:36 p.m. MST — with hopes of getting there.
Saturday began with a 30-minute delay that soon stretched into three hours, and the sun broke through the clouds as Hunter Mahan, Robert Garrigus and John Mallinger teed off on the 10th hole at the South Course. Five minutes later, the horn sounded. Because it was for weather, they were able to finish the hole.
Mahan’s caddie took a picture of the 11th tee, a 216-yard par 3, and the visibility was no more than 50 yards.
It never got any better.
“That little bit of sun we did get today was overpowered by just the saturation of the atmosphere, so we just couldn’t overcome it today,” said Stewart Williams, the tour’s meteorologist.
Defending champion Brandt Snedeker, seven shots out of the lead, was among those who had the longest day. He was up at 5 a.m., arrived in darkness, warmed up in the fog and never hit a shot.
“It’s tough when you prepare one day, and then it’s one of those days where preparation is going to be kind of thrown off,” he said. “But we have these days from time to time. We kind of know what to do to keep your mind fresh and ready to go. You realize it’s a different week, and could be a Monday finish now and be ready for that.”
Woods won in 2005 at Torrey Pines when fog interrupted the tournament, though it was completed on Sunday. The last time this event was shortened to 54 holes because of weather was in 1998.
Russell said the Farmers Insurance Open will go 72 holes. He just couldn’t promise when 84 players could get to the 37th hole of the tournament. Without rain, there was the chance of more fog Sunday morning.
“If we say we’re not going to play because we might have fog in the morning, and we didn’t have fog, we’d have tremendous problems,” he said. “So we’re going to schedule it, and hopefully, we won’t have fog and we can play golf. That’s all we can do. If Mother Nature doesn’t co-operate, we don’t have very much control over that. We’re going to be out here, ready to play, and see what happens.”
That’s assuming they can see at all.