SPRINGFIELD, N.J. — Adding to its reputation as the most unpredictable major, the PGA Championship now is awash in a new drama. It is not only a matter of who will finish first in a tournament that has seen its share of unlikely winners. It is a question of when.
A Monday finish is a real possibility as rain ended play early in the third round Saturday and the forecast Sunday is dicey at best.
“It is what it is. Looks like there’s a chance this could go into Tuesday,” said Jordan Spieth, who made par on the first hole on Baltusrol Golf Club when the horn sounded. Play never resumed and is scheduled to begin again at 7 a.m. Sunday.
Whether the course will be playable by then or if more potential downpours will hold off are anyone’s guesses.
“I’m guessing we’re going to be here until at least Monday, hopefully not Tuesday,” said Robert Streb, the co-leader with Jimmy Walker at 9 under. Both of them were among the 10 golfers who never hit a shot.
The plan is for both the third and fourth rounds to be played Sunday, with the same pairings for both. That will mean that some players will be playing the third round while others will be playing the fourth. It also could mean that the leaders might not be in or near the final groups.
Of more concern is that the weather will not be good enough to get the event completed on time. If it does extend until Monday, it will be the first time for the PGA Championship since 2005, when it also was held at Baltusrol.
The PGA of America, which runs the last of the season’s four major championships, faced questions about whether it should have rearranged tee times Saturday to put players in threesomes and start them off on both the first and 10th tees — as the PGA Tour does in threatening conditions. Instead, officials maintained the custom of sending golfers out in twosomes, all from the first tee.
Kerry Haigh, the association’s managing director of championships, said that the threesome possibility was discussed, “but not significantly . . . It’s a major championship and we want it to be run and performed as a major championship. We feel it’s important for all the players, in an ideal world, to play from the first tee and play the holes in order.”
Haigh added that the forecast for Saturday was the same as it had been for Friday, when most of the golf was played in sunshine. He cited a “window” on the weather radar Saturday that indicated there would be a chance for hours of golf. “Unfortunately, that didn’t happen,” he said.
So the PGA is the third major this year in which weather caused havoc and controversy. Players were upset about stops, starts and preparations around a first-round rain delay at the U.S. Open at Oakmont in June. At the British Open in Troon two weeks ago, observers pointed out that golfers who were not on the same side of the draw as champion Henrik Stenson and runnerup Phil Mickelson really had no chance because of wind and rain.
At best, Sunday has the makings of a long slog. “Every hole I didn’t play today, I’m going to have to play that tomorrow,” said Stenson, who is fifth at 6-under and has yet to begin his third round. “It’s normally the mind that gives up before the body. If you’re getting fatigued, it’s the head that gets tired. The body is normally fine to play two rounds of golf.”
Among those who will have to play only one round each are Kevin Kisner and Padraig Harrington, who each finished Saturday with a 5-under-par 65 and moved to 5-under and 4-under for the tournament, respectively. Then again, the course has become so soft that Phil Mickelson, the 2005 champion here, predicted that someone could set the all-time major scoring record of 62.
Of course, the bigger question is when.