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PGA Tour Confidential: Season begins with whimper at wind-delayed Kapalua

Ian Poulter, TOC
Christian Petersen / Getty Images
Ian Poulter teed off without a hat as pros struggled in the wind for a few holes on Sunday at Kapalua.

Every Sunday night, the editorial staff of the SI Golf Group conducts an e-mail roundtable. Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.

A MIGHTY WIND
Mike Walker, senior editor, Golf Magazine: Like an unfortunate couple on their honeymoon, the PGA Tour has had bad weather in Maui, with high winds delaying the opening round of the Tournament of Champions for three days. A restless Bubba Watson - after calling Friday's abbreviated round "goofy golf" - suggested letting the players play, wind or not. "Golf balls blowing around on the greens will get the viewers & ratings for tv," he tweeted. Does Bubba have a point? And when is weather too bad for tournament golf?

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I like to see Tour pros suffer, but this was simply unplayable. Such a bummer, but there was nothing anyone could do. Except, perhaps, King Kamehameha.

Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: It's totally unfair when balls move on the greens, but I love to watch the players battle the elements. Bubba's right - it makes for good TV. Some of the guys lose it out there, others deal with it, which is also interesting to witness.

Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: It's entertaining to watch for a couple of minutes, but after that it's just plain silly.

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Bubba's suggestion is fun but ridiculous. You can't hit a moving ball.

Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: My neighbor in Boise, whose son works at Kapalua, signed up to be a standard-bearer for Stricker's group. Those guys haven't even been allowed on the course yet, lest a metal sign take flight and turn into a Cuisinart.

Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: It sounds like a good idea to play until you get a spot where a ball won't stop. I covered an AT&T at Pebble Beach where, at Cypress Point's 17th green, Ed Dougherty made an 11 and Lon Hinkle made a 14 because if you missed the putt, the ball blew completely off the green. While it might be fun to watch the world's best golfers battle such conditions, as soon as guys start racking up nines and elevens, it stops being a competition.

Charlie Hanger, executive editor, Golf.com: My instinct is to agree with Bubba. Everybody's in the same boat, so what the heck. Even if it's silly, let's see who shoots the lowest score. But practically, it just can't work if the balls won't even stay still on the greens.

Jeff Ritter, senior producer, Golf.com: If the ball can't rest on the green when guys are trying to putt, that's no longer tournament golf.

Ryan Reiterman, senior producer, Golf.com: It's no fun watching golf balls blow off tees, or golfers playing without hats, exposing their sun-deprived foreheads.

David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com: There comes a point when skill is devalued so much that it's not fair to continue play. Strong, steady winds are one thing, but if the balls won't stay on greens (even when they're running to 8.5 on the Stimpmeter, as White said), what's the point? Safety is also a genuine issue. TV towers blow down and tree limbs snap.

Stephanie Wei, contributor, SI Golf+: I want to agree with Bubba, but what happened to Ben Curtis on No. 11 was silly. The wind blew his ball off the green. That's when things get goofy.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Do you like watching the pros struggle in bad weather? Is there such a thing as "unplayable" conditions?

DON'T NEED A WEATHERMAN...
Walker: Mark Twain is credited with the observation, "Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody ever does anything about it." Is this tournament just a victim of very bad luck or, with heavy wind in the forecast, should Tour officials have stopped mowing the greens?

Wei: They mowed the greens yesterday morning. They're running 8.5, but to my understanding, it's not the speed of the greens; the gusts are just out of control.

Shipnuck: The greens here are already fairly slow. They would have to have Stimped around 5 to have made a difference.

Reiterman: Just bad luck. I can't ever remember a situation like this at Kapalua. Unfortunately, this is what happens when you contest a sport outdoors. (And clearly Mother Nature wants us to watch the NFL playoffs.)

Morfit: Act of nature. Funny thing was that the weather was almost always playable just down the road in Lahaina.

Wei: Yesterday, I drove to Lahaina, just 8-10 miles away, and the weather was perfect. When I headed back up the mountain to Kapalua, the car (a pretty heavy duty SUV) was shaking because the wind was so strong. These winds are ridiculous. I've been having trouble staying upright.

Shipnuck: The dirty little secret of this tourney is that Kapalua has the worst weather on Maui. There's a reason it was the last part of the island to be developed.

Ritter: I doubt greenkeepers could've done much to prevent the delays. The mike on the 10th tee picked up Poulter, who was voicing his concern to an official about potentially injuring himself if his ball were to blow off the tee mid-swing. Poulter may have been a little over-dramatic, but if the ball won't even stay on a tee, it's time to head in.

Wei: A little over-dramatic? Way over-dramatic. He was saying he could injure himself if the ball fell off the tee mid-swing. How many times has swinging through air (a whiff) hurt someone?

Walker: Golf Magazine's Travelin Joe Passov just weighed in on Twitter: Pebble's pro Peter Hay to Cary Middlecoff at the windy '52 Crosby: "Show me in the Rules of Golf where you have to tee the ball."

Van Sickle: It never rains in Southern California, as the song goes, and yet the 2005 L.A. Open was shortened to 36 holes and declared unofficial. (Adam Scott won in a playoff over Chad Campbell.) So you never know. Hawaii would not be in my top 20 picks of tour sites where weather might cancel an event.

Godich: And remember when they played the Tournament of Champions at La Costa? How many weather delays did they have there? One year, the place was damn near underwater.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Is Kapalua the victim of bad luck, or bad decisions from officials?

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