Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

The Players; Course Shrugs off Storm Advanced Draining System Quickly Made Stadium Course Playable

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

The Players; Course Shrugs off Storm Advanced Draining System Quickly Made Stadium Course Playable

Article excerpt

Byline: Garry Smits

The streak is over.

For the first time since The Players Championship moved from March to May, and for the first time since 2005, the tournament experienced a weather suspension.

A strong cold front sent lightning, heavy rain and hail sweeping through the area of the TPC Sawgrass Players Stadium Course Saturday. Play was halted at 1:02 p.m - an hour short of the window tournament officials were hoping to get before the storms hit.

PGA Tour meteorologist Wade Stettner said .82 of an inch of rain fell on the course, with a peak wind gust of 38 miles per hour. That doesn't sound like much compared to north Florida thunderstorms but it was enough to fell a tree near the 16th tee box.

The TPC Sawgrass maintenance staff's rain gauge registered .65. Pea-sized hail fell on some parts of the course.

Play resumed at 5:30 p.m. after what tournament director Mark Russell called "a tremendous effort," on the part of superintendent Tom Vlach and his staff. The new sand-capped fairways and Sub-Air draining system installed in 2007 when the course was renovated also helped make the course playable.

"The course was in unbelievable shape ... it was almost as if it hadn't rained," Russell said.

The field will return to the course this morning at 7:45 to complete the third round. The fourth round will begin at 11:30 a.m., with the players going off Nos. 1 and 10, in threesomes. That should enable the final group to tee off close to the originally-scheduled final-round starting time of 2:35 p.m. and finish within the NBC window from 2-7 p.m.

"I don't think we'll have a problem getting done," Russell said.

Forecasts as late as Saturday morning called for a 50 percent chance of thundershowers. But shortly before noon, pop-up showers to the west boiled over into a massive area of dangerous weather and 20 minutes after fans and players were evacuated, sheets of rain, high wind and hail began lashing the course. …

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