SPRINGFIELD, N.J. – Conditions were wet to begin the second round of the PGA Championship – perhaps too wet, according to some of the players who got off to early starts at Baltusrol Golf Club.
More than an inch of rain fell overnight at the course, and a steady rain was still falling when play began at 7 a.m. ET. PGA of America officials worked to clear low-lying areas with squeegees for the first few groups, but play was halted at 8:15 a.m. because of saturated conditions, resulting in a 41-minute delay.
Those that played in the worst of the conditions to begin the morning included Gary Woodland, who was in the second group off the back nine at 7:10 a.m.
“We shouldn’t have been playing, first of all, to start,” Woodland said after a 2-over 72. “It was standing water everywhere, puddles in the bunkers. It was just unfortunate.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Woodland’s playing partner, Ryan Palmer, who carded his second straight round of 71.
“They teed off an hour before they should have teed off, I think,” Palmer said. “We got down on (No.) 10 fairway and it was already under water. We squeegeed our first two or three tee boxes. By the time we got to 13, it was obviously unplayable.”
It was there on the par-4 13th that things reached a standstill for Palmer – literally. After hitting his tee shot into casual water in the fairway, Palmer felt his closest point of relief would have required him to drop his ball in the rough. He refused to proceed, and the horn blew minutes later suspending play.
“I told the official, ‘I’m not hitting another golf shot,” he said. “I told him, ‘This isn’t championship golf.’ I’m sorry, but you can’t play golf under water. There was nowhere for me to drop. I hit a great tee shot, and I’m not going to penalize myself by dropping in the rough because that’s my nearest point. It’s just, that’s not how the game of golf is played.”
Colt Knost was among the first threesome off the 10th tee at 7 a.m. and stated that, if players were required to proceed in the soggy conditions, they should have at least been afforded the option of ball in hand.
“One hundred percent it should have been lift, clean and place,” Knost said. “We were kind of joking on the range about whether we’d play it up or not. We never thought it would be a question of playing it up. I mean, there were visible puddles in the fairway from the first tee. They were squeegeeing tee boxes.”
The window of inclement weather was a small one, though, as Steve Stricker – who started his round at 7:30 a.m. off the front nine – had no issue with the decision to play the ball down.
“The course is actually holding up pretty nice. I took one ball for casual water on No. 13 I think, but other than that it was fine,” Stricker said. “Our whole group, I don’t think any of us had a real problem with mud on the ball.”
Billy Horschel teed off at 7:40 a.m. in the group behind Stricker, and he understood the PGA of America’s decision to play the ball down, given that the alternative would have afforded the afternoon wave a significant advantage on a soft course under sunny skies.
“They toed the line and they got away with it, but it could have looked really bad for them,” he said. “They played with fire and they won.”
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