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Wind Causes Cancellation Of Play

Posted: 1/7/2013

Can you explain why first-round scores were nullified when play was postponed due to high winds at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Maui?

Weather conditions frequently interrupt play at golf tournaments, but this past weekend saw extreme weather conditions cause the PGA Tour to not only suspend play, but to cancel the play that had already occurred.  This happened not once, but twice over the first three days of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at the Kapalua Resort’s Plantation course.

On Friday, the first groups teed off in high winds and rain.  As they worked their way around the golf course, the winds continued to pick up. Golf balls were being blown across the greens and by the time the first group reached the ninth hole, the conditions were such that the PGA Tour Rules Committee decided that play needed to be suspended. Shortly after that, they reached the difficult decision to cancel all the play for the day and nullify the results to that point.

Rule 33-2d (The Committee – Course Unplayable) says that if the Committee considers that for any reason the course is not in a playable condition or that there are circumstances that render the proper playing of the game impossible, it may, in match play or stroke play, order a temporary suspension of play.  It further gives the Committee, in stroke play only, the power to declare all play null and void and cancel all scores for the round in question.  This is what the Committee chose to do.

Decision 33-2d/1 contains guidelines on whether to cancel a round. There is no hard and fast rule and the decision is left to the judgment of the Committee. The example given in this Decision is exactly what happened at Kapalua. It states “… if some competitors begin a round under extremely adverse weather conditions, conditions subsequently worsen and further play that day is impossible, it would be unfair to the competitors who started not to cancel the round.”

Had the first round been continued the next day in substantially better conditions the player who had played eight holes in almost impossible conditions would have been at a severe disadvantage over those who hadn’t started their rounds.

Unfortunately for the PGA Tour and the players, Saturday’s conditions were no better and play was never started. They tried for a third day on Sunday, but once again the winds became so severe that play was quickly suspended and again the first-round scores were nullified. The PGA Tour hoped to commence the first round on Monday, attempting to play 36 holes and possibly conclude the 54-hole tournament on Tuesday.

As Rule 33-2d states, play can never be canceled in match play. This is one example of the differences between match play and stroke play.  Since the two sides in a match are playing in equally poor conditions, no player can be considered to have been placed at an unfair disadvantage versus his opponent.


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