Wind Wreaks Havoc At Riviera, Delays Genesis Invitational

Wind Wreaks Havoc At Riviera, Delays Genesis Invitational

LOS ANGELES: Tiger Woods arrived at Riviera on Saturday just in time for the Genesis Invitational to be delayed by high wind.

Woods, the tournament host, is not playing this year as he recovers from a fifth back surgery. He spent most of the late morning visiting with Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele and other players who had time on their hands.

The wind was gusting to 35 mph, strong enough in such dry conditions that golf balls wouldn’t stay on the green. And then a piece of communications equipment was toppled near the 14th tee, and officials halted play.

It was supposed to resume after a delay of just over three hours. But as players were warming up, play was stopped again.

Sam Burns, who had a five-shot lead going into the third round, was poised over his opening tee shot when the horn sounded to suspend the round.

The wind both hurt and helped.

Keegan Bradley had a 40-foot birdie putt across the 10th green to a right pin position. The wind kept pushing the ball along, beyond the cup, to the edge of the green and down a slope between two bunkers. He made double bogey.

Max Homa hit 5-iron from 222 yards in the fairway on the par-5 opening hole. It was a smart shot to the middle of the green, and the wind and slope pushed it closer and closer to the hole until it stopped 10 inches away. Homa tapped in for eagle to reach 8-under par, four shots out of the lead, right before the horn sounded.

Weather delays are not unusual in golf, just not when the sky is brilliant blue and visibility is so good the Pacific could easily be seen through gaps in the eucalyptus trees.

We had some balls move around on the putting greens, which we were able to deal with under the rules, said Steve Rintoul, the PGA Tour’s tournament director this week. However, ultimately I think we got into a situation of player safety, safety of our volunteers and everybody else out there on the golf course was our primary reason for shutting things down.

There would not be enough daylight to finish the third round if play ever resumed.

Two years ago, rain forced the final groups to play 34 holes on Sunday, so finishing the tournament was not expected to be a problem.

Johnson, who was five shots behind Burns, had a 15-foot eagle putt when play was stopped. Jordan Spieth, in contention for the third straight week, opened with a birdie and was five shots back.