After a rainy start to Thursday’s first round at Fox Chapel Golf Club, a dreary 15 minutes was enough to suspend play in the second round of the Constellation Senior Players on Friday.What followed ultimately were sunny skies, but after half an inch of rain, much of the golf course was beyond repair in terms of playing that round. While many players opted to go home, some got extra time on the putting green and practice range.
Despite mother nature, all of the players got at least half of their round in with Fred Couples taking the lead at 11 under par through 11 holes of his round. He was seven under for the day.
“Hitting fairways was a plus and I made a few putts obviously, but I hit it close,” Couples said. “The only downside is right before the siren went off I hit kind of a very mediocre shot on 3 for about a 60-footer. I went and marked my ball, which is probably going to have about 30 feet of break when I go out there tomorrow morning. So if I two-putt that, I’ll be very, very happy.”
Couples started strong birding the par four 10th hole to open his round and then went on a birdie run birding Nos. 13, 14, 16, 18, 1 and 2. Still he was constantly checking to see if the inevitable rain would show up.
“We played and kept looking at the officials and they’d give you the thumbs up, which means the weather is going to be pretty good,” Couples said. “Today it happened really fast. It poured, I don’t know, half an inch in five minutes. So I don’t think we knew we were going to get out of this day without any problems, but it happened really fast.”
One player that did finish all 18 holes was Jeff Hart who shot a 5-under 65, his best round on the Champions Tour, to go to 7 under on the tournament. This was despite his shortened length off the tee.
“I’m hitting it so short that I’m hitting a lot of 5-woods, 4-woods, even 3-woods into some of the par 4s, but it seems like I’m either hitting those clubs or hitting wedges or 9-irons,” Hart said. “So there’s scorable holes where holes are either really short or really long it seems like. So there are certainly birdie holes out there.”
Still Hart was feeling good out on the course and it was thanks to a new approach.
“I’m finally learning to try less and less,” Hart said. “I think that’s the key for me. I think we’re all conditioned to try harder and in all sports you’re told get in there, try harder, and certainly golf is no different, but I’m just kind of letting it go right now and that’s the key. If I can keep doing that, then I’ll play well I think.”
First round leader John Huston is also in contention as he ended on a strong note before play was suspended. On his 15th hole of the day, Huston holed out from the fairway to go to 9 under.
Among others, Colin Montgomerie is 4 under in his second round on the Champions Tour. Defending champion Joe Daley is at 1 under, Rocco Mediate and John Cook are at 1 over. Tom Watson is at 2 over.
Rain, rain go away
The rain started early in the week and in addition to affecting the start to Wednesday’s pro-am and yesterday’s first round, it continued to be a factor today as just a handful of golfers were able to complete their second round. Now the players will need to get up early to finish their rounds at 8 a.m. Saturday.
“It would have been nice to get the round in, so the day just gets a little bit longer,” David Frost said. “You have to get up earlier and then start your third round. I’m not in a bad position which helps and a couple of birdies will make everything feel a lot better.”
Earlier in the week, Frost said that in order to win this week a golfer would need to shoot 3 or 4 under each round. Frost was unable to accomplish that in the first round and currently sits at 5 under for the tournament. Still, with the rain, it is a whole different ballgame.
“This is different now, the golf course has completely changed,” Frost said. “Five or six under in a round would have been unheard of, but now you shoot that and you’re not running away from anyone.”
Play will resume at 8 a.m. Saturday with gates opening at 7:15. The third round will start at 11 with split tees on 1 and 10. Fans holding a ticket for today’s second round can exchange their ticket at the gates for a grounds only ticket Saturday or Sunday.
Chris Dazen also contributed to this report