Updated: 01/07/2013 4:07 AM KSTP.com
(AP) KAPALUA, Hawaii - As expected, Monday at the PGA Tour’s season opener figures to be filled with anticipation at the Tournament of Champions.
Not because of who might win, but whether they might actually start this tournament.
Already, a few historical notes are worthy of research. This is believed to be the first PGA Tour event to start on a Monday. Rickie Fowler is certainly the first player given the honors of hitting the first tee shot of a new season _ three times.
"Sweet," Fowler said before leaving Kapalua for the day.
The opening round was wiped from the books for the second time on Sunday when gusts that reached 48 mph came roaring down the Plantation Course and turned this winners-only tournament into goofy ball. Ben Curtis had birdie putts on his first two holes. He made a double bogey and a triple bogey. Matt Kuchar’s ball was blown off the tee before he could hit his opening tee shot.
"You hope for the best, and it just didn’t happen," said Slugger White, the tour’s vice president of rules and competition, when he delivered the grim news to players who have spent more time waiting than actually playing at Kapalua this week.
The plan was to play 36 holes on Monday, and then return Tuesday for 18 holes to make it an official event.
By now, it’s officially a weird tournament.
"I think everyone wants to play," Bill Haas said. "But I think everybody wants it to be the person that plays the best who wins. On the 10th hole, somebody might hit a putt ... a foot from the hole, and that same, exact putt 10 minutes later might blow off the green 30 yards and make triple (bogey). And I just don’t know if that’s identifying the best player."
Here’s how the 2013 season has unfolded to this point.
_Fowler smashed a driver 360 yards on Friday to start the season. He made it through eight holes before play was stopped because of 40 mph gusts, not long after Carl Pettersson hit a good lag that rolled another 30 feet by the pin and off the green. Webb Simpson was 3 under through seven holes when his score was wiped clean. Scott Stallings was 7 over through four holes and thrilled with the decision.
_The idea of a 36-hole Saturday never materialized. There were three one-hour delays before officials realized the wind was getting worse, and the round was postponed without anyone hitting a shot, except on the practice range.
_The plan for a 36-hole Sunday turned into an 18-hole Sunday when the wind did not relent, and when players teed off, trouble was brewing. Kuchar’s ball wouldn’t stay on the tee. It took him seven minutes before he made contact, which was about how long _ slight exaggeration _ it took Ian Poulter to take a stab at his 10-foot birdie on the 11th. Fowler hit a thin 3-wood that never got more than shoulder-high and barely reached the first fairway. The round was wiped clean after about an hour.
Where does that leave the Tournament of Champions? Right where it started, even though it hasn’t started.
Jason Dufner was 1 under through five holes, though he was on the front nine, which is far easier in this wind. Curtis was 5 over through two holes, and no one was happier than him to see the round scrapped. As for the Tuesday finish? Curtis is the last PGA Tour player to win on a Tuesday, at the Booz Allen Classic in 2006.
His golf ball already had moved once on the 11th green. As he got ready to hit his putt, it moved again, this time off the green and down the slope. He chipped up and took four putts from 15 feet, giving him eight putts in two holes.
"It’s crazy. That’s the only way to describe it," Curtis said. "I’ve never hit two greens in regulation at the start and walked away at 5 over. But hey. At least we had to try."
And they will try again.
For those wondering why this tournament keeps getting postponed, an hour of television Sunday was all the evidence they needed.
Poulter posed over his 4-iron shot to the 13th green and was so stunned to see it come up short that he looked at his small gallery for the longest time, repeating loud enough for them to hear that he was only 138 yards from the front of the green. Off to his right, Charlie Beljan had a search party stomping through high grass to the right of the 10th fairway looking for both his tee shots. He had a 15-foot putt for triple bogey when play was stopped.
Moments later, a call came over the radio for a ruling on the 12th green. Stallings was trying to tap in a 2-foot putt when a gust blew his ball 8 feet away.
"We need to try to put the show on," Poulter said. "Hyundai spent a lot of money. We want to play. Fans want to see us play. TV wants to see us play. We’re backed into a corner. I don’t think they understand how windy it really is. Now they’ve seen it."
It was comical from the start, with Kuchar having to tee it up three times before he could hit, and removing his cap the rest of the way. Jonas Blixt had a 1-foot par putt on the 10th hole and took about two minutes. He had to wait as a cup and someone’s hat blew across the green.
Blixt has played 10 holes over two days in these conditions in 1-under par. None of it counts, but the Swede learned one thing.
"There’s no instruction book for this," Blixt said. "You just go by instincts."
The tour insists on a 54-hole tournament, no matter how complicated that will be with the next tournament, the Sony Open, starting on Thursday in Honolulu. Andy Pazder, the tour’s chief of operations, said television and operational equipment can only be transported to Oahu on a barge that takes 16 hours on a good day. The plan was to televise the final round at Kapalua, and go with a limited TV production for the opening round of the Sony Open.
Defending champion Steve Stricker lounged on a sofa in the dining room watching the NFL playoffs with Dustin Johnson and Brandt Snedeker. Along with Bubba Watson, they have yet to tee off all week.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)