LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Another deluge, another delay, another day of second-guessing at the 96th PGA Championship.
For the fourth consecutive day it rained at Valhalla Golf Club and for the second time this week play was halted because of unplayable conditions, a delay that lasted an hour and 51 minutes on Sunday.
While PGA of America officials have no control over the weather, they do have a say over the decision not to play lift, clean and place, which is not surprising considering they have never played the ball “up” at the year’s final major.
“It was unplayable this morning,” Graeme McDowell said. “The ball should have been played up, simple. To me it's fair out there if you can play the ball up. It's not fair if you can't play the ball up. It's casual water everywhere. … Common sense has to prevail at some point.”
McDowell was hardly alone in his assessment of the PGA’s decision and the association did play preferred lies during the 2004 Senior PGA at Valhalla.
“It’s not (fair) in all honesty,” Jason Bohn said. “I like the idea that they want to play the golf ball up because you can give the guy who is playing the best golf the trophy at the end of the week. But what happens is when we are taking relief from casual water we find a dry spot. We have to drop at arm’s height and the ball is going into the depression when it lands and not bouncing out (of the depression).
“That might not necessarily yield who is playing the best golf.”
Officials, however, felt the golf course was playable even after three-quarters of inch of rain doused the layout, which was already saturated following a week of rain, early Sunday.
“It's unfortunate and it's tough on everyone,” said Kerry Haigh, the PGA of America’s chief championships officer. “Nobody likes playing in the casual water and the mud on the balls. But it's part of the game. You know, that's what the rules are about. You have the casual water to get out of it, and so long as within reason, you can find an area drop, and you can do that or you don't have to drop.”
Many players also questioned the decision to restart play at 2:44 p.m. ET with standing water still dotting many of Valhalla’s fairways.
“Unfortunately, you are going to have guys hit really bad shots and get punished when they shouldn’t (with a mud ball),” Ian Poulter said. “You pretty much took relief on every fairway and twice we had to get relief from the fairway to the rough.”
Some rulings were also being questioned as officials made an apparent attempt to keep play moving in order to finish the event on Sunday.
“They didn’t do a very good job with the rules in my opinion. I saw two rulings that were completely incorrect, never seen them before, don’t know how you can do it,” Bohn said. “I couldn’t really do anything because an official was telling me what to do.”