(Reuters) - The Hawaiian island of Maui was no paradise on Saturday when the official start of the 2013 PGA Tour was postponed for a second consecutive day because of strong gusting winds at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
First-round play in the PGA Tour’s season-opening event was entirely scrapped on Friday because of similar conditions and hopes of playing 36 holes on Saturday were abandoned after the re-scheduled start had three times been pushed back an hour.
With the weather expected to improve slightly over the next two days, organizers said they planned to complete 36 holes on Sunday and 18 on Monday in a tournament now cut to 54 holes.
Winds gusted up to 40mph across the Kapalua Resort’s Plantation Course on Saturday, making the par-73 layout unplayable.
On some of the more exposed holes on the back nine, golf balls rolled uphill when dropped on the greens as a test by officials.
”We tried as best we could,“ Slugger White, the PGA Tour’s vice president of rules and competition, told reporters. ”We got balls rolling all over the green, so we have cancelled play for the day,
”I dropped a ball on the 10th green, on the back of the green ... and it rolled 20 yards off the front. We did have balls that were going uphill on (hole) 10 about foot and a half.
“Forecast for tomorrow is a little better, (winds) 15 to 25 mph with gusts, maybe, to 30. A little less moisture, more like pineapple showers than these downpours that we have had.”
While 24 players in the elite, winners-only field of 30 were able to tee off on Friday before the first-round scores were wiped out, not a single shot was struck on Saturday.
“If the course wasn’t so exposed, it wouldn’t be a problem but you have a lot of greens exposed to 40 mile-an-hour wind gusts,” said FedExCup champion Brandt Snedeker.
“It’s tough to make that call. They (officials) did the right thing. We had to try to play today if we wanted to try to get 72 holes in. Unfortunately a short day, but hopefully we’ll get out tomorrow and get some golf.”
Fellow American Hunter Mahan, a double winner on the PGA Tour last year, agreed that conditions had been unplayable.
”With these gusts, the ball is basically just moving on its own,“ he said. ”That doesn’t make for good golf and good scores or fun for anybody to be out there right now.
“We all are trying to figure out what to do and what’s the best plan for us to get ready for the next two days or three days.”
U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson had been the early leader in Friday’s aborted round, moving to three under par after just seven holes before the players were summoned off the course.
Swede Jonas Blixt was at one under after five holes, a stroke in front of compatriot Carl Pettersson (after one hole) and Americans Kyle Stanley (four), Ryan Moore (three), Johnson Wagner (two) and Scott Piercy (one).
Veteran American Steve Stricker, who won last year’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions by three shots to clinch his 12th PGA Tour title, was among the six players who did not tee off on Friday.
Weather permitting, play will begin at 7:10 a.m. local (1730 GMT) on Sunday with a two-tee start.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue