Seamus Power leads the Irish charge after the first round of The Players Championship was finally completed on Saturday afternoon amidst gale-force winds at TPC Sawgrass.
With play having already been suspended an hour from the original 11am projected tee-off time on Saturday morning, by the time the players returned to the course they were met with winds that were still gusting up to 30mph, creating havoc – particularly around the par-three 17th.
It was a sign of the carnage to come that the first three players to tackle the infamous island green – Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele and Brooks Koepka – all found the water with their tee shots, and things continued in a similar vein from there.
But Power was able to manage the conditions well, restarting his round at the par-four sixth and parring his way back to the clubhouse to finally sign for a one-under 71 that has him just inside the top-50.
Rory McIlroy was another who returned to the course to complete his first round and he would also finish on the score he restarted at, carding a one-over 73 that saw him birdie the par-five 16th but fall foul of the 17th despite being the first player to safely land his ball on the green.
The World No.6 resumed in the middle of the fairway at 16 and hit the green in two, two-putting for the birdie, but although he found the putting surface on the 17th, he would leave himself 53-feet from the hole and a three-putt would drop him back over-par.
It spoke volumes as to how strong the wind was that McIlroy, one of the longest hitters on Tour, could only hit a driver 247 yards on the 18th, but he managed to get down in three from there for par and will reset for his second round.
Shane Lowry, meanwhile, won’t get his second round underway until Sunday morning after PGA Tour officials informed the final three groups on either side of the draw that they wouldn’t be able to resume play in time to get them on the tee.
The former Open champion had been due to get his second round underway at 11:39pm Irish time – almost exactly 48 hours since he completed his first round on Thursday evening due to the weather delays – but is now set for an even longer wait to return to the Stadium Course.
Both McIlroy and Power have already resumed in their second rounds, such is the quick turnaround put in place by the PGA Tour to try and finish the tournament on Monday, however a Tuesday finish still looks a possibility if there are any more delays.
It also looks highly unlikely that the winner of the tournament will come from the group of players who were in the originally planned late-early wave of starters due to the horrendous conditions they were forced to endure, with Daniel Berger and Brice Garnett’s admirable five-under 67s the best of those who finished on Saturday afternoon.
That leaves them one shot back of leaders Tommy Fleetwood and Tom Hoge, who both set the clubhouse mark on Thursday evening and will only return to the course themselves on Saturday evening looking to increase – or, given the conditions, just consolidate – their advantage.
Kramer Hickok, Joaquin Niemann and Anirban Lahiri are among those one shot back at five-under who will resume their tournaments on Saturday evening, while Keith Mitchell is also five-under but in the same situation as Lowry as he will not be back on the course until Sunday morning.
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