Golf

Weather delays push Honda Classic finish to Monday

A Honda Classic sign to the right of the car in the lake is covered in the water after heavy rain and lightning in Palm Beach Gardens postponed the third round of the tournament until Sunday.
A Honda Classic sign to the right of the car in the lake is covered in the water after heavy rain and lightning in Palm Beach Gardens postponed the third round of the tournament until Sunday. AP

We all know, according to the postman’s credo, weather conditions such as rain, sleet and snow will not affect mail delivery.

That’s all fine, but weather can sure turn a golf tournament into chaos.

The Honda Classic discovered that Saturday when severe storms that included lightning and winds of up to 60 mph stopped play for the day, sent golfers and fans scrambling for safety and even knocked down the huge, iconic scoreboard that sits on a platform in a lake near the 18th green.

Fortunately, no injuries were reported by late Saturday as the actual golf tournament on the Champion Course at PGA National Resort & Spa — with Padraig Harrington leading Patrick Reed by one stroke — becoming a secondary topic.

“Obviously, it’s been a brutal, brutal afternoon,” Honda Classic executive director Ken Kennerly said.

When asked about injuries, Kennerly responded, “I have not heard of any. Our team did a great job evacuating the course. We further evacuated people that refused to leave until it got a little heavy, as people tend to do.

“But we got all children, some elderly people that were out there. We got them in safe and sound. A little wet, of course, but no injuries.”

The horn to stop play and signifying approaching lightning sounded on the course at 12:51 p.m. The brunt of the storm came about 90 minutes later.

Kennerly summed up, “We’ve got a great leaderboard and, of course, what happened is frustrating. Mother Nature took her toll on us.

“We’re going to do our darndest to get four rounds of golf in.”

To do that, even with cooperative weather, a Monday finish for the Honda Classic is a certainty.

With two long weather delays on Friday, followed by Saturday’s minimal play — completion of the second round and just a brief start of the third round — there is no possibility of completing the tournament Sunday. In fact, play Sunday will be starting later than normal.

“There’s no way the course can be ready by 7 a.m. Sunday,” a PGA Tour official said.

Instead, Sunday’s first tee-off time will be 10 a.m. as they will try to complete the third round and keep going into the fourth round until darkness halts play.

On Monday, if all goes well, they will complete the fourth round.

Wade Stettner, the PGA Tour’s on-site meteorologist, said conditions should improve Sunday.

“When we come in Sunday morning,” Stettner said, “there’s about a 30 percent chance of some scattered showers before noon, and it looks like things clear up for the afternoon.”

On Monday, if all goes well, they will complete the fourth round.

None of the leaders were able to even start their third round in Saturday’s play, but Harrington grabbed the tournament lead by completing his second round and posting 67-66 for a 7-under 133 total.

Harrington, 43, is a five-time winner on the PGA Tour and has won three major championships (the PGA Championship in 2007 and 2008 and the British Open in 2008). Although he hasn’t won a PGA Tour event since 2008 and has struggled of late, he’s confident about his position in the Honda.

“It’s nice to be in contention,” he said. “I’m very positive about my game coming here this week. I have a good idea where I’m going.”

Why the confidence?

“I’ve struggled with my putting for a few years,” Harrington said. “The last six months, I found something that has given me some peace on the greens.”

Reed, 24, spent Saturday without hitting a shot that counted since he had finished his second round Friday and was unable to start his third round Saturday.

Like Harrington, Reed is a confident guy — maybe even more so than Harrington.

“I feel like I keep on improving day in and day out,” said Reed, who won the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship nearly a year ago. He goes into Sunday’s third round one back after two rounds of 67 for a 134 total.

Ian Poulter (71-64) and Brendan Steele (66-69) are two back of Harrington at 5-under 135.

Making a nice move into contention Saturday was Phil Mickelson, who is tied for eighth and five back after rounds of 71 and 67.

“You know, shooting 3-under-par got me back into position where I could make a move in the third round, and that’s kind of the goal,” Mickelson said.

A starting time has not been set for Monday’s conclusion, but all fans will be allowed in free for general admission.

Leaderboard

Name

Rounds

To Par

1. P. Harrington

67-66

-7

2. Patrick Reed

67-67

-6

T3. Ian Poulter

71-64

-5

T3. B. Steele

66-69

-5

5. Luke Donald

69-67

-4

TV coverage: 1 p.m., GOLF; 3 p.m., NBC

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