Friday, October 30, 2009

Viking Classic start delayed another day

For the second straight day, the first round of this week's US PGA Tour event, the Viking Classic at Annandale Country Club, has been postponed. The course remains saturated.
Tournament officials will now try to get first round play under way at 8:20 am local time on Saturday. However, the forecast calls for a 100 percent chance of rain Friday afternoon and night with an accumulation of another 1-2 inches expected.
Viking Classic tournament director Randy Watkins said the decision to postpone for the second straight day was made due to the playability of the golf course. Even with a dry day on Thursday the course did not improve.
"There's no way you could hold a fair competition on the course as it is today for a lot of different reasons," Watkins said. "There's no firm footing. There's no dry spots. There's no way to find golf balls. There's some holes that are not playable and they're unlikely to be playable by the end of the day today with the weather forecast that we have."
Watkins said that any decision on whether to extend the tournament into next week, shorten it or cancel it altogether rests with US PGA Tour officials. He said every option is being discussed.
"The golf course playability is day by day thing," Watkins said. "If we get a bunch of rain, it won't be playable at all. Any time next week is probably unlikely. But that's still to be determined.
"We've discussed altering the golf course, changing par 4s to par 3s. Every possible scenario that you can imagine, and then there are extras, those that you can't possibly imagine -- we've discussed those. All of those are in place based on the forecast, but we are still hoping to make a start on Saturday."
The last time a round was postponed for two consecutive days was at the 2005 BellSouth Classic. The event was eventually reduced to 54 holes and completed on Monday with Phil Mickelson winning on the fourth hole of a five-way playoff.
The US PGA Tour schedule has an open date next week, although some Tour players are competing at the World Golf Championship-HSBC Champions in China. Matt Kuchar, who withdrew on Thursday, and Nathan Green are the only two players in the Viking Classic field entered next week.
The open date makes the possibility of a Monday or Tuesday finish a possibility -- depending on the condition of the golf course. The Viking Classic is the 15th Tour event this season to experience a suspension or delay. There have been five Monday finishes, most recently at the Turning Stone Resort Championship.
Three players have withdrawn from the Viking Classic since the postponement of round one on Thursday. Jeff Klauk was replaced by Dicky Pride, Omar Uresti took Kuchar's spot and Garrett Willis is in for George McNeill. The next alternate on the list is Paul Stankowski.

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