EDISON, N.J. (AP) — The PGA Tour on Friday reduced its first playoff event to 54 holes because of the rain and potential damage expected from Hurricane Irene.
New Jersey was under a hurricane warning, and officials feared up to 10 inches of rain could fall on Sunday. That would make it impossible for The Barclays to be a 72-hole tournament, and the aftermath of the storm would keep Plainfield Country Club from being ready even into early next week.
Tournament director Peter Mele also said the volunteers needed to be home to make plans for their families.
“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,” Mele said.
Slugger White, the tour’s vice president of competition, said the plan was finish 36 holes Friday and start the third round first thing Saturday morning, with hopes of getting in a 54-hole event before the rain arrives.
If they can’t finish Saturday, he said it would revert to a 36-hole tournament. Points would be distributed as if it were a full event, meaning the top 100 players after The Barclays would advance to the second playoff event next week outside Boston.
Left unclear was whether a 36-hole tournament – if that were the case – would count as an official win. Six years ago, Adam Scott won the Nissan Open at Riviera in a playoff after rain reduced the tournament to 36 holes. Scott was awarded the prize money, but it did not count toward the money list, and he received only 75 percent of the world ranking points.
“In the past it has not been an official win,” White said. “But this is a little different situation.”
What mattered more at this FedEx Cup playoff event was advancing to Boston. A short tournament figured to work in the favor of someone like Padraig Harrington and Will McGirt, the last two players of the 125 who qualified for the playoffs. They were off to a good start at The Barclays, and had only one more round to go to get into the top 100.
And it suddenly became compelling at the top of the leaderboard.
Matt Kuchar shot a 65 in the second round Friday morning. He was one shot ahead of Dustin Johnson, who was playing the reachable 18th hole. Justin Rose also finished his second round at 65 and was alone in third place.
It was another blow to The Barclays, one of golf’s biggest sponsors which is enduring a wet streak. It’s Singapore Open last fall did not finish until Monday because of rain. Another event it sponsors, the Scottish Open, was reduced to 54 holes in July because of rain.
White said workers would start taking down the electronic scoreboards Friday afternoon.
The Barclays was a sellout at Plainfield. Mele said only Saturday tickets would be honored for the third round. He said those who had Sunday tickets would be able to use them next year, when the tournament moves to Bethpage Black.
This is the second straight year a hurricane has been the focus at a playoff event. Hurricane Earl threatened the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston last season, although it never developed.
“I think you never know with hurricanes. They are fickle as we all know,” Mele said. “Unfortunately, this one wasn’t.”