That wasn't exactly the scene today in the final round of the washed-out Children's Hospital Futures Golf Classic, but for Courtney Wood, who proved to be the week's top mudder after 36 holes, a win is a win.
'I don't have the same emotion maybe I'd have if I had to birdie to win, but this just goes to show that every hole counts,' said Wood of Brentwood, Tenn., who carded rounds of 67-69 to move into the lead at 6-under-par 136 prior to Sunday's canceled final round. 'You never know what the weather is going to do.'
Indeed, that was the case all week at Cross Creek Golf Club when the new course endured a total of six inches of rainfall in five days. The course opened only turf mats on the practice range on Tuesday, closed the waterlogged course for play on Wednesday, then regrouped with a bright and sunny pro-am day on Thursday, followed by two sunny, sauna-humid days for the first and second rounds.
But today, the rain returned with the first storm delay, suspending play from 11:15 a.m. to 1:04 p.m. The grounds crew brought out squeegees and hustled to clear standing water, but a second storm suspension with heavy rain again brought in the 144-player field at 3:22 p.m. Only six players had completed 18 holes of the final round. After a variety of considerations by Futures Tour operations staff, executive staff, tournament officials and golf course staff, Christy Barks, Futures Tour Director of Tournament Operations, announced that the final round had been cancelled.
'The golf course is unplayable and there's no option at this point with the number of players still on the course and with more bad weather expected on Monday,' said Barks. 'We wouldn't have enough volunteers to continue the round on Monday and we aren't confident the course will even be playable in another day. You can only make educated decisions based on facts.'
While players appeared disappointed not to have another go at the par-71, 6,100-yard course that had played as difficult as any track they had faced all season, they also seemed largely supportive of the Tour's decision to cancel the round. Cross Creek received a half inch of rain during the morning suspension and more than a quarter-inch more of rain during the second suspension on top of an already saturated golf course. Laden with numerous Environmentally Sensitive Areas that gobbled golf balls and frayed nerves all week, the tough placement course put players on the defense. Soggy fairways and placement rulings only added to the difficulty.
'It's almost not about skill when it gets so bad,' said Wood. 'And you know it's bad when you can't take relief from casual water unless you go 100 yards back.'
'The course really was unplayable,' said Allison Hanna of Portland, Ore., who finished second for the second consecutive week, posting scores of 68-69 for a 137 total. 'I think they made the right decision. Yeah, I might think about that bogey I made on the 18th hole Saturday, but I also have to think about being that much closer to winning.'
'Casual water was everywhere,' added Meaghan Francella of Port Chester, N.Y., who tied for 13th. 'I'm disappointed. I wanted to try to move up after the second round, but I'm happy for Courtney.'
Wood and Hanna, playing alongside Kyeong Bae of Seoul, Korea, tied after three holes today, before Wood took the lead again at the fourth, then bogeyed the fifth hole to drop back into a tie with Hanna. The two rookies and recent college grads appeared destined for their own little match-play afternoon when play was suspended for the second time.
'We had a whole bunch of holes left when they stopped play,' said Wood, who graduated from Vanderbilt University in May. 'Allison is a really good player. I knew she was going to put up a tough fight and I was looking forward to playing with her today.'
But the rising creeks and casual water won out at the inaugural $70,000 event in the Washington, D.C. area. Bae and Emily Bastel of Upper Sandusky, Ohio wound up tied for third at 3-under-par 139.
And Wood earned her first professional title, improving her ranking on the money list from No. 65 to No. 24 with her $9,800 winner's check, along with a healthy dose of confidence heading into the Tour's final four tournaments.
'Winning gives you confidence you can't get any other way,' said Wood. 'It's like breaking down a wall. You have to take that big, first step.'
Wood recalled how rookie Danielle Downey ended up winning the rain-shortened event in Lima, Ohio this year in mid-June. Wood said Downey could have downplayed her performance and called it lucky timing, but instead, she used the win as motivation to put herself in contention at every tournament since that time. It was something she had thought about, and it was something that occurred to her today as she sat in the clubhouse waiting for a decision on the event.
'This is a tough course,' said Wood. 'Who knows what would have happened if we could have finished today? I'd like to think that I'd be in the same position after 54 holes. And I hope I'll have that chance again soon.'