PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The rain was blowing sideways. The wind was howling off the Pacific Ocean.
There was only one way for players to keep their ball in play on Pebble Beach’s 18th hole Thursday. It was just a question of how close to the water they wanted to start their shots.
“If the golf ball gets wet, you get squirrely shots,” Padraig Harrington said. “It’d be a lot easier shot on a dry day. But with a wet day, it scares the life out of us. Golf balls are designed for good flying conditions. You don’t want to get moisture between you and the clubface.”
That situation was unavoidable Thursday, before first-round play was eventually suspended because of unplayable conditions. Shane Lowry wanted to hug the left side of the hole, but water on the face of his 3-wood squirted his ball right, behind the massive cypress tree and near the grandstand. But at least he was dry.
“If you aim left and try to play for the wind and hit it straight, then you’re dropping 200 yards back and playing your fourth shot from there,” Lowry said.
Michael Thompson said that he aimed his second shot on the left edge of the scoreboard behind the green. “It probably should have been 20 yards into the water,” he said. Like Lowry, Thompson’s shot wound up in the right rough, behind the massive cypress tree, and led to a bogey.
It was a popular spot.
Thompson’s playing partner, Jonas Blixt, sailed his second shot into the spectator village right of the fairway and received a free drop. Depending on the player’s entry point, it was the smart play.
“I heard them say a rules official is just going to hang out by 18 green,” Thompson said. “Everyone is going to be hitting into the tent and taking the drop. Everybody is going to be dealing with it.”