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The Players Championship could use a classic finish

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — The Players Championship felt like a series of Peloton sessions this week.

There were lots of wheel spins, lots of elevated heart rates and yet where it all ends, the destination, remains unknown.

As play has been suspended on each of the past four days, there has been a gray area as to who is actually running the golf tournament, as players have always been at different stages of their respective rounds.

After play was suspended due to darkness on Sunday, Anirban Lahiri led the tournament at 9 under par through 11 holes of his third round, followed by Tom Hoge and Harold Varner (8 under), who are both through nine holes of the third round.

There has been no continuity in this tournament and it is frustrating for everyone, players, spectators and television viewers.

After three days of on-site operation thanks to the series of unprecedented weather problems interrupting proceedings at TPC Sawgrass, Monday we could actually have a real golf tournament.

Barring any unforeseen issues, we’ll have a winner by lunchtime Monday.

And it will be a welcome sight given how scrappy this tournament has been since its first rain suspension on Thursday morning.

Tom Hoge plays his second shot on the fourth hole on Sunday.
Tom Hoge plays his second shot on the fourth hole on Sunday.
Getty Images

By late Monday morning, the tournament should finally be caught up with the completion of the third round, setting the stage for the final round, which was to be played on Sunday.

Kevin Kisner was somewhat right on Saturday when he said, “We still have 36 holes to determine who plays better.”

Monday noon, it will be better than that: there will only be 18 holes left to understand this and put an end to this trying week.

“It’s pure luck and some loss of tournament integrity in my opinion,” Kisner said of the tournament with its borderline unplayable conditions on Friday and Saturday.

“I’m one of those who believe that if it wasn’t for The Players Championship, we wouldn’t have played [Saturday]’, said world number one Jon Rahm. “I don’t know if they should have.”

The only thing professional golfers do better than hitting incredible golf shots is complaining about course conditions and the elements. Kisner led that line on Sunday, lamenting being among the players who were unlucky in the draw due to weather delays.

Jon Rahm
Jon Rahm
Getty Images

In all fairness, the other players disagreed.

“I don’t know the integrity of the tournament,” Cam Smith said Sunday. “We have to do what we have to do. We have to go out and play, and unfortunately for those guys, they lost on that side of the board. You gain some, you lose some. Usually not in the US, maybe as a [British] Open or something, it kind of comes into play more. Yeah, it’s just unfortunate for those guys.

Tommy Fleetwood, the first-round leader, added: “Yeah, you get good draws, you get bad draws. I’ve had my fair share of bad. I’ve probably had my fair share of good ones, but you never remember them, you just complain about the bad ones.

“Yeah, we had amazing things for two days, we really, really, and I consider myself very lucky. It’s good to have a good draw, it’s good to make the most of it for two days , and the tournament now starts again and you continue.

Tommy Fleetwood
Tommy Fleetwood

Abraham Ancer understood Kisner’s gripes, but said, “There’s a lot of times you’re in a bad wave, but that’s only part of it. It’s almost never the reason you have guys who miss the cut here or end up winning. It happened to be that kind of week.

“I feel like throughout your career it might even out. I feel like I’ve been in a lot of bad waves, and there’s really nothing you can do about it. You need to put on your blinders and just focus on your next shot.

Paul Casey, who is under 7 and two shots up on Monday, was asked how he would “characterize” the week.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever had two full days off at a tournament,” Casey said, referring to playing Thursday but not Friday or Saturday. “How would I call it? It was weird. It started with a triple bogey on Thursday to launch my championship. I got 2 cents which I was extremely happy with, especially since I knew there would be some kind of delay.

“I know I had the lucky side of the draw. I’m very aware of that. And it was interesting to watch the guys fight on the other side. I mean, I believe in the gods of golf and karma.

Maybe after everything that happened this week to derail one of the best tournaments in the sport, some good karma will take over and give us a fantastic finish.

New York Post

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