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Dublin: 13 °C Thursday 23 October, 2014

FedEx Cup braces for Hurricane Irene

Hopes for the successful completion of The Barclays’ 72 holes are in doubt after heavy rain called a halt to the first round of the tournament. And there’s a hurricane comin’.

Spectators at The Barclay's run for cover during Thursday's first round.
Spectators at The Barclay's run for cover during Thursday's first round.
Image: Mel Evans/AP/Press Association Images

HARRISON FRAZAR IS leading The Barclays. All anyone wanted to talk about was Irene.

Whatever enthusiasm there was for start of the FedEx Cup playoffs was dampened Thursday — first by rain that halted the first round for nearly three hours, then from the gloomy forecast of Hurricane Irene. That left players and officials wonder when, how or even if they can finish the opening playoff event.

Of the early starters — who didn’t finish until mid-afternoon — Frazar led an onslaught of birdies on rain-softened Plainfield Country Club, shooting a 7-under 64. One of the few times he was in trouble, he chipped in from behind the first green to turn bogey into birdie.

Vijay Singh overcame a double bogey early in his round for a 65 and was tied with Jonathan Byrd. Adam Scott was in the group at 66. Nick Watney, the No. 1 seed as the race begins for the $10 million FedEx Cup bonus, was among those at 67.When it was too dark to continue, 51 players did not finish the round. They were to return at 7:15 a.m. on Friday, and the tee times for the second round were expected to be pushed back by about 30 minutes.

“I wanted to get done today,” Frazar said.

“With the way the weather is coming, I didn’t want to have to sit around and play too much tomorrow or too much Saturday. It’s going to be a long week by the time this thing is over.”

Slugger White, the tour’s vice president of competition, was hopeful that everyone from the afternoon group could at least made the turn. That would give the tournament a chance to complete 36 holes by Friday, and if the expected wind and rain holds off long enough, get through the third round Saturday.

No one was sure what to expect after that, if anything at all. White ruled out a 36-hole Saturday.

The concern is that Plainfield about 10 inches of rain over the last few weeks and probably can’t take much more.

“If we get five or seven inches of rain here, we are probably dead in the water,” White said.

This is supposed to be the time the 125 players who qualified can start dreaming about golf’s biggest payoff — $10 million to the winner after four playoff events in the next five weeks. Officials again painted “PGA TOUR PLAYOFFS” into the grass of one hill, much like is scene on midfield on a football game.

It’s a wonder the paint didn’t wash away.

Bad weather is not unusual in golf, and the tour has a policy to only reduce events to 54 holes if there is no way to finish on Monday. But this is not an ordinary event. Only the top 100 players in the FedEx Cup standings after The Barclays advance to the second round.

What might help is that the next event, the Deutsche Bank, doesn’t start until Friday because of its traditional Labor Day finish. Only PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem has the authority to allow for a Tuesday finish if it comes to that.

- AP

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