No earthly way of knowing


EDISON, N.J. – With part of the opening round of the FedEx Cup playoffs now in the books – though not the entire thing, thanks to a lengthy weather delay – let’s take a quick look back at the PGA Tour's regular season: Parity ruled, with no player winning more than twice; a rookie playing his first major was victorious; and the world’s most famous athlete failed to finish inside the top 125 on the points list.

In what has been one of the most patently unpredictable golf seasons in years, we shouldn’t be surprised that more of The Great Unknown is permeating through Plainfield Country Club right now.

That’s not a commentary on the current state of the standings, although it easily could be. After all, entering these four playoff events, the favorite to win the $10 million first-place prize is … Nick Watney? Steve Stricker? Luke Donald? Phil Mickelson? None of the above? Pick a card, any card.

No, this is in reference to the actual Barclays itself. The event already endured a 3-hour, 16-minute suspension due to torrential rainstorms in the middle of the first round, which was only an appetizer before the main entrée, as Hurricane Irene is expected to rip through this area beginning Saturday night.

All of which leaves the PGA Tour with some decisions to be made, as this thing could finish up anytime between Saturday and next Tuesday. Let’s break down those possibilities.

Saturday finish: This would require a decision to play 36 holes in one day prior to the hurricane reaching New Jersey. It’s an ingenious idea, really, which would afford the tournament the chance to get ahead of the situation rather than linger behind it.

“I think they should,” said Ryan Palmer, who posted an opening-round 66. “If they want to play 72 holes, they should have us play as much as we can on Saturday.”

Perfect, then. They’ll finish up the second round on Friday evening and play the final two rounds the next day. Done deal. Um, right?

“No, we are not going to do that,” tournament director Slugger White contended.  “We don't have enough daylight, is one thing. We can't get it in. Plus, we have got not a very good forecast Saturday afternoon.”

Bad move. This would have been a popular decision amongst players and a way to potentially give it an effort, but it apparently won’t happen.

Sunday finish: Hey, the PGA Tour always finishes on Sunday, so why not this week, too?

Oh, right. That huge orange-red-purple blob on the radar, which has been referred to as “a 100-year storm” by New Jersey governor Chris Christie.

Monday finish: So, how long does it take to clean up a golf course after a massive hurricane? At least 24 hours.

Even if Irene has completely blown through Plainfield, the expected destruction left in its wake will require massive work on the golf course, from draining water in the bunkers to squeegeeing the greens to repairing any damage to grandstands and ensuring their safety.

“This golf course took about, I think, like 13 inches of rain last week,” White explained. “I just can't even imagine what another – if we are looking at five to seven inches of rain, what that's going to do.”

Tuesday finish: This is the doomsday scenario – well, doomsday as far as golf is concerned, which takes a backseat to any damage that could be done by the hurricane – but it looks like the most likely one to occur.

The best part about this scenario, if there is one, is the fact that next week’s Deutsche Bank Championship doesn’t start until Friday, so Tuesday is essentially equivalent to Monday of any other week.

“Just rough it out, I guess,” Vijay Singh, who shot 65, said when asked what he would do if he was in charge. “There's nothing else we can do. We can play till Tuesday, which is a big thing, so hopefully it's going to miss us. You never know.”

You never know.

That’s sort of been the motto for this entire season. With so much on the line in these upcoming playoffs, nothing has changed.