HUMBLE, Texas – Historically, meteorologists have been as accurate with their forecasts as Phil Mickelson has been off the tee, and PGA Tour officials are hoping the weather for Sunday’s final round of the Shell Houston Open is better than anticipated.
The forecast calls for an 80 percent chance of heavy showers and thunderstorms. The Tour has already moved up final-round tee times, with the final group going off at 10:30 a.m. ET.
Still, it appears increasingly likely that there will be a Monday finish for the Masters tune-up. That’s a major headache.
Just how much of an inconvenience it poses, however, depends on the players’ Augusta preparation.
Several players – including Houston Open leader Matt Kuchar and Masters favorites Rory McIlroy and Mickelson – said it wouldn’t be an end-of-the-world scenario. In many cases, they’ve already done their Masters scouting. McIlroy, for instance, spent two days this week at Augusta, playing 18 holes each day.
“I don’t mind if I stick around,” McIlroy said. “It’d probably be preferable to get out of here (Sunday) night, but otherwise it won’t affect me that much.”
Said Mickelson: “I usually take Mondays off, so I have nothing scheduled. I’ve already done my preparations. I know how I’m going to play it.”
Kuchar, who leads here by four, wasn’t even planning on being at Augusta until late-afternoon Tuesday. A Monday finish in Houston would simply mean one fewer night at home.
Hunter Mahan hasn’t made a pre-tournament trip to Augusta, but he didn’t seem that concerned, either. Normally, Mahan spends his Masters Monday on the range with swing coach Sean Foley, going over their game plan for the week from a technical standpoint.
“It’d be a headache, for sure,” he said, “but it’s just another challenge you’ve got to deal with. You can’t harp on any kind of circumstances you can’t control. You’ve just got to get there and go to work. You signed up for this week, so you have to play this week.”
The threat of a Monday finish could prompt those toward the bottom of the leaderboard to reevaluate whether they want to stick around for the conclusion of play or bail early for Augusta.
Sergio Garcia doesn’t have that luxury, seeing as how he is tied for second heading into the final round. But he’s still worried about what impact a Monday finish could have.
“I don’t think it’d be the best thing, for sure,” he said. “It wouldn’t be very good. You’d have to squeeze everything together, get no rest.”
Well, rest assured, the Tour is hoping it doesn’t come to this worst-case scenario.