Humana Challenge third round delayed
The Humana Challenge suspended play midway through the third round after high winds caused damage on all three courses, toppling trees, blowing balls off the greens and knocking a scoreboard into a lake on Saturday.
The tournament will resume third-round play on Sunday with Mark Wilson holding a three-stroke lead over Ben Crane.
The pro-am tournament reported no injuries, but called an early halt after 35-mph (55-kph) winds rampaged across the Palm Springs area in the early afternoon. The amateur players, including former President Bill Clinton, won't get to finish their rounds on Sunday.
"It's really bad," said Slugger White, the US PGA Tour's vice president of rules and competitions. "They've got a lot of trees down. It's a real mess. ... We knew (the wind) was going to be bad, but we thought it would be something we could play with, and then the bottom fell out."
White said he believes they can finish the four-round event on Sunday "in a perfect world." Wilson doubts it after ferocious gusts interrupted a previously perfect weekend of Palm Springs weather.
"It's amazing how it happened so quickly, but we've seen it before," said Wilson, who's at 21 under for the tournament after going 5 under through 15 holes at the La Quinta Country Club course, which sustained the most damage. "I think they made the right call. You don't want to see anybody get hurt."
Most of the golfers were past the turn in the third round when kicked up, blowing balls around the course, sending a large scoreboard into a lake on the Palmer Private course and wrecking an awning in the Bob Hope Square fan area. Several trees were toppled at the La Quinta course, while the other two courses had only cosmetic damage and blowing debris.
White said the grounds crews would use chainsaws to remove the fallen trees at La Quinta.
Clinton and Greg Norman had just hit their tee shots on the 10th hole of the Palmer Private course when play was suspended. A short time later, a scoreboard blew into the lake that's flanked by the 10th and 18th holes.
Wilson was a co-leader after two rounds with Crane and David Toms, who dropped back to 15 under. Zach Johnson moved within four strokes of the lead after going 6 under through 13 holes.
"We knew there was wind in the forecast, but I've never really experienced anything like that," Johnson said. "Not that quick and that fierce and that intense in that amount of time."
Until the wind kicked up, extremely low scores had dominated the first two days. Robert Garrigus jumped into contention Saturday by making nine birdies in 13 holes on the Nicklaus Private course before play was suspended.
Garrigus joined John Mallinger and John Senden at 16 under, five strokes behind Wilson.
Sam Saunders, Arnold Palmer's grandson, made a hole-in-one on the fifth hole of the Palmer course.
White believes it might be possible to finish the event on time. Most players are staying in Southern California next week for the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.
"I don't know how they could get it done tomorrow, but more power to them if they do," Wilson said.