January 27, 2013
— The boxing adage "you can't hit what you can't see" was applied to golf Saturday as the combination of pea soup fog and white balls forced a third-round postponement at the Farmers Insurance Open.
PGA officials spent most of the day impersonating lighthouse operators as they monitored the fog that blanketed the South Course at Torrey Pines.
"We basically lost the whole day," PGA rules official Mark Russell said.
Only two groups teed off Saturday and only one group completed its first hole before play was suspended.
Players will resume play at 7 a.m. on Sunday and, according to Russell, "play until dark."
Russell estimated the final nine to 12 holes will be have to be finished Monday morning.
Steady rain dampened, yet did not delay, the completion of Friday's second round in which 87 players made the cut and Tiger Woods held the 36-hole lead.
Fog, though, is a different story.
"You just can't see," Russell said.
There were times the skies appeared ready to clear as players scurried to the practice range.
Brandt Snedeker, the defending champion, arose at 5:30 a.m. in anticipation of his 7:40 tee time.
"I've warmed up three times already," he said at one point during the daylong delay. "I've putted for three hours, probably."
His putts were pointless.
Just as play appeared inevitable, however, the fog would roll back over the course.
Paying patrons waited patiently for the start of an anticipated weekend that had Woods positioned at 11 under par, with a two-shot advantage.
Monday finishes are nothing new for Woods at Torrey Pines.
At the 2008 U.S. Open, he needed a Monday playoff to hold off Rocco Mediate in a dramatic finish. Woods made a 12-foot putt at his final hole Sunday for force the playoff. He and Mediate were still tied after 18 playoff holes Monday before Woods prevailed in a sudden-death win on the seventh hole.
"I have been out here long enough to know that this is part of the game," Woods said of Saturday's weather postponement.
Woods, a six-time winner of this event, holds a two-shot lead over Billy Horschel at nine-under 135.
Six players are three shots back — Casey Wittenberg, Brad Fritsch, Erik Compton, Steve Marino, Jimmy Walker and Josh Teater.
"Welcome to the job that is golf," said Wittenberg, who was supposed to tee off at 9:40 a.m. in the final grouping with Woods and Horschel. "It's not the first delay I've ever had and I'm sure it won't be the last this year."
Snedeker was the first-day co-leader before falling off Friday with a three-over 75.
At four-under overall, he's still only seven shots behind Woods.
"You catch up with guys you've seen in a while," Snedeker said of dealing with the down time. "You do a lot of storytelling. You eat four or five times and you try to pass the time as best as possible. You don't want to think too much about the golf course right now."
Saturday must have been the longest day of Horschel's young golf career.
Horschel waited all his life to be grouped with Woods for the first time and the fog delayed his wait a little longer.
"It's a crazy day," he said.
Horschel, an East Coast native who graduated in 2009 from the University of Florida, was thrilled at his original 9:40 a.m. tee time.
It meant Horschel didn't have to wait around all day, or so he thought.
Imagine sitting around all day waiting to play Woods for the first time. Horschel is the fidgety type with superstitions that include carrying four tees and a 1936 quarter in his right front pocket. He claims to have read all four "Twilight" books in two weeks and is a believer in Bigfoot and UFOs.
Horschel said he received all sorts of advice on how to play with Woods.
Jim Furyk texted Horschel "Do your thing."
Horschel said Snedeker told him, "Don't try to match him or anything that he does."
After Horschel left Florida in 2009, he applied for a sponsor's exemption to Woods' tournament, the AT&T National.
Horschel was so thrilled Woods gave him a spot he worked up the nerve to personally thank the star on the Wednesday before the event.
Horschel was stunned that Woods even knew who he was.
"He said 'I know you've had a pretty good college career and you've done pretty well,'" Horschel said.
Woods told Horschel "Just keep doing what you're doing. You'll be fine, and you'll be out here in no time.' So I thought that was something cool at the time. Obviously, he meets tons of players and for him to sort of mention my college career and a couple things I've done was, I thought, pretty remarkable."
Horschel played in 17 PGA Tour events last year and made 15 cuts, but too many poor finishes required his return to qualifying school.
Horschel said the worst thing he does during idle time is read too many golf stories on the Internet.
"Some guys can read the articles and sort of let it go," he said. "With me, it stays with me. I think about it."
He wants to make this trip to the tour stick for many years, but he'll have to sleep on his latest dream for one more night.
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