Featured Golf News
The Barclays Reduced to 54 - and Perhaps 36 - Holes
With Hurricane Irene heading north up the East Coast, the PGA Tour has decided to shorten The Barclays, the first tournament in the season-ending, four-event FedEx Cup Playoffs, to 54 holes and, if the weather worsens, even 36 holes.
The event got off to a slow start Thursday thanks to thunderstorms that swept through the area around the tournament site, Plainfield Country Club in Edison, N.J., causing a three-plus-hour delay.
Though there is a threat of thunderstorms Saturday morning, players who make the 36-hole cut Friday will tee off Saturday at 7:00 a.m. Heavy rains are expected to arrive in the area around 2:00 p.m., with Irene coming through late Saturday night or Sunday morning.
If Saturday's round cannot be played or completed, Tour officials said the results of The Barclays would revert back to the players' positions after 36 holes.
On Thursday, officials expressed hopes that the tournament could have a Monday or even a rare Tuesday finish, but with the threat of Irene and heavy rains over the weekend, Plainfield's course would not be playable.
Forecasters issued a hurricane warning for much of New Jersey early Friday morning, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a state of emergency warning Thursday.
On Friday, the executive director of The Barclays, Peter Mele, and the Tour's vice president of Rules and Competitions, Slugger White, met with reporters and discussed the various scenarios. Here's what they told the media.
MODERATOR: We would like to welcome Peter Mele, Executive Director of The Barclays, as well as Slugger White, Vice President of Rules and Competitions for the PGA Tour to make an announcement about plans for the weekends and The Barclays tournament. Slugger?
SLUGGER WHITE: Peter?
PETER MELE: Slugger? (Laughter).
SLUGGER WHITE: We have -- I think Laura (Hill, interview moderator) has put out a press release. We are going to play early tomorrow. We are going to play 18 holes, probably 7:00 to 9:00 will be our tee times, and we are going to reduce the event to a 54-hole event. With the extreme weather conditions that we have got staring us in the face right now, Sunday obviously is not going to be here. We are looking upwards to maybe 10 to 12 inches of rain between Saturday night and Sunday evening, and that puts Monday in no way we can get out of here Monday and it puts Tuesday out, as well.
MODERATOR: Can we get your reaction just from a local standpoint, as well.
PETER MELE: Obviously it kind of makes you want to cry because of all the effort that went in and all of the energy that surrounded this event going into the week, which is going to be the best Barclays we have ever had. And I feel very badly for Barclays as a sponsor. This is their third rain-affected event, starring at Singapore when they went to a Monday finish; and Scotland they had a 54-hole tournament there, as well, as it preceded the British Open, as well as this one.
I feel really badly for the club members who worked hard and extended themselves as much as any club could extend themselves to support the event and for all of our sponsors and for the fans. You can see today what this week would have been, and I think to the staff here, the superintendent, his staff, their efforts have been Herculean dealing with the 12 inches of rain you saw last week leading up to the event, and then this week. So it's just -- it really is a shame.
Q. What's the forecast for tomorrow and what would happen if you couldn't get the 18 in tomorrow?
SLUGGER WHITE: If we don't get 18 in tomorrow, we will resort back to 36 holes, and the points of the FedEx points would go to that. They would be spread there and sent to Boston.
Q. What forecast do you see for tomorrow?
SLUGGER WHITE: Not the best. We have got some weather in the morning, maybe, and then after two o'clock and on, it's going to -- it's like the rain is going to, you know, be with us probably. So that's our hope to finish prior to two o'clock. And do the best we can. So do the best we can to finish tomorrow.
Q. You lost me on the points' thing.
SLUGGER WHITE: And the points with go on 36 holes, just like they would be spread out if we went 54 holes.
Q. Would it be an official tournament?
SLUGGER WHITE: I wouldn't -- that's a good question, Doug, and I'm not sure I can answer that. In the past it has not been an official win, but this is a little different situation. So I might have to pass the buck to our office.
SLUGGER WHITE: To Laura. Laura, is this an official win? (Laughter).
Q. Would you say most of the golfers came in to the tournament, and I guess you guys did as well, knowing about the weather conditions that we are facing here, do you think basically in the back of everybody's mind that this was a 54-hole tournament even by early in the week, or it was -- was that kind much mindset realistically even way before today's press conference?
SLUGGER WHITE: I don't think so. I mean, I think we would -- I mean, there was so many different scenarios and I was very vague yesterday, and I'm sorry. But I mean, if we had a decent forecast for tomorrow, we might have tried to play 36 holes tomorrow. But time restraints, not a good forecast, it was almost like shooting ourselves in the foot. So that's the sad part. But we do everything we possibly can to get 72 holes in by Sunday and unfortunate that Irene is not cooperating.
PETER MELE: If you go back, I think last year's event in Boston, they were anticipating a hurricane coming up the coast that week, too; it never happened. I think you never know with hurricanes, they are fickle, as we all know. Unfortunately this one wasn't.
Q. The first time in the brief history of the Playoffs that one of the events has been shortened?
SLUGGER WHITE: Any of them that I have been involved with have not been. This is the first one that I know of.
Q. Do you have anything on Saturday or Sunday tickets?
PETER MELE: Tomorrow, we are going to honor our Saturday tickets. As we announced, the tournament was a sellout, so we contemplated allowing Sunday tickets on the grounds tomorrow, but due to the reasons why we had to the sellout of capacity issues, we were afraid to do that because it might just make things even worse. What we will do is any person that purchases a ticket for Sunday this year will be given an equal number of Good Any Day tickets for the 2012 event at Bethpage.
Q. Were the concerns, the rain, the golf course condition or the overall power loss or greater problems that might be around? How did that figure into it?
SLUGGER WHITE: I think safety factor out there. I mean, we have got scoreboards that are going to start coming down today, and probably after 3 o'clock, and then they will be going through probably till midnight trying to get those out of here. Golf course-wise, it can't handle too much more and we are looking if we could get away with maybe two inches of rain out there. But when we are looking at maybe six to ten inches of rain, we would have probably four holes in the bottom there that I don't think we could even -- we may not get a canoe to them.
Q. Have the state or federal attorneys made their opinions known at all?
SLUGGER WHITE: I think when the Governor announced his state of emergency, I think he's pretty much on track and it's my understanding that the President made a similar statement here in the last hour. So I didn't see it, but I kind of heard that.
Q. Nothing direct?
SLUGGER WHITE: He didn't call me, no. (Laughter).
Q. I would just be curious as you're going through the decision, how much did the volunteers that you have this week play into the decision of getting ready to handle this?
PETER MELE: That was a huge concern, actually. One of the things we discussed with the volunteers, they wanted to get home to their homes and their families, and some of them have come from a distance. The staff here, you know, the club staff, the superintendent staff has a lot of volunteers on his view that want to get home to their families and take care of business preparation with the hurricane, too. Safety, as Slugger said; safety is a huge concern, and it's just not fair to keep people kind of hanging on waiting around and not telling them.
MODERATOR: Any further questions? Thank you to both.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.