PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Winds gusting dangerously to 60 mph blew down the floating scoreboard on the lake alongside the 18th green Saturday at the Honda Classic during a storm that halted the third round for the day shortly after it began.
The PGA Tour announced at 2:51 p.m. that play was halted for the day. The third round is scheduled to resume at 10 a.m. Sunday.
Heavy winds and almost 4 inches of rain also caused the collapse of some concession stands at PGA National, but no injuries or major structural damage were reported, according to Honda Classic executive director Ken Kennerly.
“Our team did a great job evacuating this course,” Kennerly said. “The PGA Tour was well ahead of this storm.
“Obviously, it’s been a brutal afternoon. We are doing an evaluation of the golf course right now. We lost some concession areas and a few other things, but, for the most part, the major structures of the golf course are intact.”
Kennerly said he was unaware of any injuries. Spectators were cleared from the course and mostly gathered in the clubhouse and hotel with the storm arriving.
“We further evacuated people that refused to leave, until it got a little heavy, as people tend to do,” Kennerly said. “We got all children, and some elderly people out there, we got them in safe and sound.”
With it unlikely the third and final rounds can be completed Sunday, Kennerly said the aim is still to complete 72 holes, with a possible Monday finish.
“We’ve got a great leaderboard, and, of course, it’s frustrating,” Kennerly said. “But, we’re still looking forward to a great day tomorrow.”
After the rain-suspended second round was completed Saturday morning and the cut made, the third round began at noon. Just 51 minutes later, weather horns blew, suspending play with lightning and heavy rain and winds approaching. Players never got back on the course..
After the suspended third round is completed, the PGA Tour will not re-pair players for the final round. Threesomes will be sent out in their same groupings to play the final round.
“Right now, we have a favorable forecast,” PGA Tour meteorologist Wade Stettner said of Sunday’s schedule.
Just 24 players were able to complete the first hole of the third round with nobody completing more than three holes.
Slugger White, PGA Tour vice president of rules and competition, said his staff was still evaluating damage to the course.
“We’ve got, pretty much, probably, a mess,” White said. “The bunkers, I’m sure, are an absolute mess.”
Padraig Harrington finished up a 4-under-par 66 Saturday morning after returning to complete the second round. At 7 under overall, he leads Patrick Reed (67) by one shot and Ian Poulter (64) and Brendan Steele (69) by two shots. None of the leaders got off before the third round was suspended.
“That was some of the craziest weather I think I've ever seen,” said Russell Knox, who is accustomed to challenging weather in his native Scotland. “For a good hour and a half, it was just torrential rain and blowing 50. Terrible.”
Friday’s second round was suspended twice by bad weather before darkness ultimately halted play. The second round resumed early Saturday morning and was completed at 11:39 a.m. with 71 players making the cut at 4-over 144.
“It’s a mental grind,” Stewart Cink said of the delays. “I’m sure it will be windy again tomorrow. This course can really work on you mentally, and that takes its toll over 36 holes in one day.”
The Honda Classic has a long history of dramatic weather. In 1986, at TPC-Eagle Trace in neighboring Broward County, Kenny Knox shot 80 with winds ripping to 45 mph in the third round, but still went on to win. In ’91, Greg Norman shot 77 in howling winds and blasted the Eagle Trace setup as “carnival golf,” leading to the tournament’s eventual move to nearby Weston Hills. In ’95 at Weston Hills, violent winds ripped apart corporate skyboxes the day before the tournament began.
There also is some history of drama surrounding the floating scoreboard at PGA National. Back in 1987, when the PGA Championship was played on the Champion Course, with searing August temperatures reaching 100 degrees, PGA officials were stunned by a volunteer scorekeeper’s unexpected wardrobe change. The scorekeeper, a model hired by the resort’s P.R. firm, disappeared behind the floating scoreboard in her volunteer outfit only to re-appear in a string bikini, infuriating PGA of America officials, who immediately sent a boat out to remove her.