MADISON, Miss. – PGA Tour officials have postponed the Viking Classic until at least Sunday and will evaluate the course Saturday before making a decision on when or if the tournament will be held.
Heavy rain this week has left standing water and tracts of mud all over the course. Officials said in a late afternoon news conference that they didn’t want to speculate on what could be done with the tournament.
Earlier in the day, though, they said possibilities include postponing the full event until next week or weekend, shortening it to 36 holes and starting it midweek, or outright cancellation.
That final choice seemed to grow more likely as a fresh round of thunderstorms drenched central Mississippi on Friday.
“It’s just a mess,” said Slugger White, the PGA Tour’s vice president for rules and competition. “If we get this rain (today), I don’t know when this place will dry.”
Shortly after White spoke Friday morning, temperatures dropped 15 degrees and heavy rain began to fall as a cold front moved through the area. It is supposed to start clearing Saturday, but that doesn’t mean Annandale Golf Club will have a course that’s ready to play.
It’s already saturated after two months of steady rain, and players reported standing water and large areas of mud.
Weather hasn’t forced the cancellation of a PGA Tour event since April 1991 in Houston. And officials haven’t had to postpone consecutive rounds since the first two days of the 2005 BellSouth Classic, which was scaled back to 54 holes.
The fairways at Annandale are so waterlogged, White said six to seven holes would have to be shortened from par 4s to par 3s because of fairway conditions.
The tournament could be moved to next weekend or rescheduled, White said, but that ruling would have to come from commissioner Tim Finchem.
It’s an important event for several players fighting to get inside the top 125 on the money list and keep their exempt status for next year. There’s only one more Fall Series tournament left after the Viking Classic.
Among those is Rickie Fowler, the 20-year-old who lost in a three-man playoff in Arizona last week at the Frys.com Open and is trying to earn enough money to avoid going to Q-School. Fowler got into the Viking Classic based on his top-10 finish last week.
White said Friday night that if the Viking Classic were canceled or rescheduled, Fowler and Jamie Lovemark – who also was part of the playoff last week – would be able to use their top 10 to get into Disney, the final Fall Series event.
Lovemark could not use his exemption this week because he had to go through the first stage of Q-School, where he easily advanced on Friday in North Carolina.