June 20, 2013 – Calgary, AB (ISN) – Thanks to heavy overnight rains and persistent storms popping up throughout the day, round one of the ATB Financial Classic presented by TELUS saw just one hour and 22 minutes of play completed Thursday at Country Hills Golf Club before play was called off for the day.
Between 30 and 80 millimetres of rain fell overnight in the Calgary area and was followed by several bouts of rainfall Thursday, saturating the Talons Course at Country Hills and making it unplayable for the remainder of the day.
With maintenance crews working to prepare the golf course, the start of first round play was originally pushed back by seven hours from 7:30 AM to 2:30 PM. Then, with another thunderstorm coming through the area, players were called in until the re-start at 4:00 PM. 14 groups were able to complete at least one hole before being called in once again due to dangerous weather with lightning in the area.
“That last storm on its way produced some lightning so we took the players off the course, and with that storm along with what was happening [with flooding], there was no way we were going to get back out tonight,” said PGA TOUR Canada Vice President of Competitions and Administration John Slater.
The overflowing fairways produced several large puddles, including an impassable one that had developed on the ninth fairway.
“That one spot on nine was dangerous and that’s the one thing we wouldn’t compromise,” said Slater. “After that shower went through when we suspended play, you could see the creek just rising.”
Slater said the plans are still to complete the ATB Financial Classic presented by TELUS as a 72-hole tourmament.
“It never really crossed my mind that we wouldn’t play 72 holes,” said Slater. “There’s a lot of daylight and if we need to play 36 holes on Sunday, we’ll certainly do that.”
West Des Moines, Iowa’s Nate McCoy held the early lead, going 2-under par through five holes to lead by a shot over six players at 1-under.
Play is scheduled to resume Friday morning at 7:30 AM. The afternoon wave of tee times is scheduled to take place from 11:20 AM to 1:20 PM, with round 2 beginning at 7:00 PM.
The persistent overnight rain caused several southern Alberta communities to declare local states of emergency, including an emergency evacutation in High River.
PLAYERS PASS THE TIME
How does a PGA TOUR Canada player pass the time during a rain delay? When you get to the golf course at dawn and don’t tee off until late afternoon, the solution can require creativity.
“I ended up going back after they gave us a four hour delay and played some video games with my caddie,” said three-time PGA TOUR Canada winner Stuart Anderson, who was staying in nearby Strathmore with his parents. “It was a battle for the Cup. I’m an Edmonton Oilers fan and he’s a Carolina Hurricanes fan, so we had two best-of-sevens with them. We decided to switch it up and go Boston against Chicago and I won the first game.”
Anderson said he arrived at Country Hills at 6:20 this morning, left when the first tee times were moved back four hours and returned for some practice after lunchtime, well before he eventually teed off at 4:20 PM.
“We should have stayed out there a little bit longer and finished our best-of-seven.”
COUNTRY HILLS PRO TEES IT UP WITH MAJOR PLAYERS
Country Hills head professional Brett Burgeson is playing this week on a Sponsor’s Exemption, but finds himself in some major company in his first and second round tee times. Burgeson is teeing it up with fellow sponsor invites TJ Vogel and Mackenzie Hughes, both of whom have played in major championships this spring. Vogel earned an invite to the Masters this April after winning the US Public Links last summer, while Hughes was one of four players in this week’s field to qualify for the US Open last week at Merion Golf Club outside Philadelphia.
Other players in the ATB Financial Classic presented by TELUS field to play at Merion include Jesse Smith, Wil Collins and Calgary’s own Ryan Yip.