Plans for the inaugural Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic were revised yet again Thursday with portions of the golf course still under water from the heavy rains earlier in the week on the Ocean Club Course at Atlantis on Paradise Island.
After Thursday’s first round was canceled and the event shortened to 54 holes, the LPGA had to re-group yet again, gathering players at the clubhouse at approximately 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
Players were informed by LPGA staff that a new plan tentatively calls for 12 holes to be played Friday with the possibility of as many as 13 to 15 holes being played Saturday and, hopefully, an 18-hole finale on Sunday.
With four to five holes still under water, the plans depend on how quickly course conditions improve and how much more rain may fall. The new plan allows for the possibility of between 43 and 46 holes to be played with no cut and the top 70 and ties getting paid.
“We put our heads together and thought this was the best alternative to deal with a difficult situation,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a tournament release. “We think we have at least 12 holes that are playable and in this way we are putting on a golf tournament [without a cut] and playing enough holes for the money to count as being official. We think this is the best solution, and it still delivers a great event for our sponsors and fans.”
The course is being re-routed Friday around unplayable holes. The first round will start at No. 10 with players taking detours to 6-7-4-5-11-12-13-14-2-3 and 8. Some of the pars and yardages may be adjusted. Play will begin at 7:15 a.m. and run through 3:35 p.m.
Almost 12 inches of rain fell late Tuesday afternoon through Tuesday night. The ninth hole and Nos. 15-18 remain the most unplayable, with course maintenance trying to pump water off those holes.
“The damage to the golf course and structures caused by Tuesday’s heavy rain and winds was extensive,” tournament director Matt Truax said in a release. “But, we think we can still present a first-class event for the LPGA, Pure Silk and the people of the Bahamas.”
The LPGA is aiming to play a minimum of 12 holes per day to get to the 36 holes required for an official event.
“There is good and bad to the situation and you have to decide if your glass is half full or half empty,” Rolex Rankings No. 2 Stacy Lewis said. “At the end of the day, we’ll all play the same holes, the same course and be scored the same way. That’s a golf tournament.
“It’s all about your perspective on it. If you go into it thinking, ‘this is dumb’ or ‘we shouldn’t play’ then you probably won’t play very well. I think, for the sponsors, we need to play. It’s a first-year event and we need to get out there.”
This won’t mark the first time the LPGA will play fewer than 18 holes in a round. At the 1989 Kemper Open, Betsy King and Jody Rosenthal each shot 2-under-par 63 on a 16-hole layout in the first round because heavy rains made two holes unplayable. King won what turned out to be a 52-hole event.
Since 1963, LPGA events have been shortened to 36 holes 15 times. The most recent was the Hana Bank Kolon Championship in 2007. Sunday’s final round was wiped out by high winds with Suzann Pettersen declared the 36-hole champion.