- SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Slugger White only had to look at the temperature gauge in his car to know that a Monday finish was inevitable in the Phoenix Open.
“It’s been in the 20s, 25 every morning in my car,” said White, the PGA Tour’s vice president of rules.
Because of frost and frozen greens, 7 hours, 24 minutes of anticipated playing time was lost Thursday and Friday – after the pro-am and all course activity were wiped out Wednesday at TPC Scottsdale.
“Someone made the comment, `When can you ever remember’ – and I can’t – `did we ever have a Monday finish with no precipitation?”’ White said. “I mean, for us to get knocked out for frozen greens just doesn’t happen. Frost, yeah. Frost goes away in an hour, hour and a half, and then we can just keep going, we can catch up.”
The second round resumed Saturday in 46-degree conditions, the first time in three days the frost-delayed event has started on schedule.
On Friday, play was delayed until just after 11 a.m. – 94 minutes after the scheduled start that was already nearly two hours later than normal. Only half the field finished the first round Thursday after a four-hour morning delay. In announcing the Monday finish, PGA Tour officials said the cut will remain at the top 70 and ties.
“In a perfect world, probably finish Monday, maybe four or five holes, best-case scenario,” White said. “So much depends on tomorrow morning and Sunday morning. … It’s unbelievable how frozen these greens get and they just don’t thaw out.”
It was fitting that a guy called “Tommy Two Gloves” had a share of the lead, not that Tommy Gainey thinks the extra glove really helps in cold conditions.
“I don’t necessarily think it’s an advantage when it’s real cold, and I’ll tell you why, because when the temperature started dropping, I mean, my hands, even though I had the gloves on, they were still freezing,” Gainey said. “I didn’t have much feel in my hands at that time. Wearing a glove or not, it’s still freezing, and your hands are feeling kind of numb. And that’s the way my hands were feeling, kind of numb.”
Gainey and Mark Wilson reached 11 under before second-round play was suspended because of darkness. Wilson played 14 holes, and Gainey finished nine.
On the sunny day, the temperature was 42 when play started, reached 52 and was 48 when play was suspended a little after 6 p.m. If the players started a hole before the suspension, they had the option of finishing it.
Only six players completed the second round and 64 – the entire early wave from the first round – didn’t get on the course Friday.
The temperature dropped into the mid 30s overnight, but the frost had cleared by 9:30 a.m. when play resumed. It is supposed to be warmer the next three days, with expected highs of 65 Saturday, 68 Sunday and 73 Monday.
Gainey, a two-time winner last year on the Nationwide Tour, birdied six of the final eight holes to take the first-round lead at 8-under 63, then had four birdies and a bogey on the first nine in the second round.
The 63 was his lowest score on the PGA Tour after missing the cut in his first three events this season. The round also was his first in the 60s this year.
“I’ve played absolutely terrible,” Gainey said. “Right now, I’m starting to hit the ball like I’m supposed to. I’m starting to score. Putts are dropping … Once the putts start falling, you can shoot an unbelievable low number. It just so happens that I’m making putts right now and I’m tied for the lead.”
Wilson opened with a 65 and was 5 under for 14 holes in the second round. He won the Sony Open in Hawaii last month in a 36-hole Sunday finish for his third tour title.
“We’re just going to ride this train as long as I can,” he said.
Geoff Ogilvy was third at 9 under with two holes left. He’s making his first start of the year after gouging his right index finger on a coral reef in Hawaii before the Tournament of Champions. He needed 12 stitches to repair the cut.
Phil Mickelson, on the leaderboard Thursday after a 67, didn’t play Friday.
The weather has hurt attendance, with an estimated 74,723 fans attending Friday – down from 101,709 last year. Only 38,323 showed up Thursday, down from 69,475 in 2010.
Admission will be free Monday.