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Frazar opens with the lead at Barclays, and all the talk is about the weather
EDISON, N.J. (AP) ' During a delay of nearly three hours, Harrison Frazar had plenty of time to watch the news and see the projected path of a big hurricane that appears headed up the Eastern seaboard toward New Jersey.
On the golf course, he was only concerned about fairways and greens.
He played the opening round at The Barclays without a care, keeping bogeys off his card and making a pair of birdies after the delay for a 7-under 64 that put him atop the leaderboard Thursday.
Matt Kuchar, the defending champion of his opening playoff event, also was at 7 under and had two holes remaining when the first round was halted by darkness. Also at 7 under was William McGirt, the last player to qualify for the 125-man playoffs. He made good use of his opportunity with seven birdies in an eight-hole stretch.
McGirt faced a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 12 when he returned Friday morning to complete the round.
Plainfield Country Club was super soft because of 10 inches of rain the previous two weeks, and more rain Thursday morning. It showed in the scores, with only 25 players over par.
For such good scoring, all the talk was about Hurricane Irene.
"We are all concerned about it, but it doesn't do us any good," Frazar said. "It's not in our power to do anything about it or to worry about it. If they tell us to play golf, we go play golf. If they tell us we are going to speed up and play 36 on Saturday and go home, then we'll deal with it."
Frazar won't have to worry about that.
Slugger White, the PGA Tour's vice president of competition, ruled out a 36-hole Saturday to beat the wind and rain, if it even makes its way toward the Garden State.
White planned to wait until Friday to get a better idea of the forecast before figuring out what to do. His most immediate concern was for everyone to at least get through nine holes Thursday, which was the case. There are 51 players who have to finish the first round Friday morning, and starting times for the second round should be only about 30 minutes behind.
White is hopeful that the cut can be made Friday evening, and then it's up in the air. His concern is that Plainfield can't handle much more rain as soft as it is now.
"If we get 5 or 7 inches of rain here, we are probably dead in the water," White said.
Vijay Singh birdied his last two holes for a 6-under 65 and was tied with Jonathan Byrd. Adam Scott was in the group at 66. Nick Watney, the No. 1 seed as the race begins for the $10 million FedEx Cup bonus, was among those at 67.
The forecast, along with the rain, dampened the opening round of the FedEx Cup playoffs. This is supposed to be the time the 125 players who qualified can start dreaming about golf's biggest payoff. Officials again painted "PGA TOUR PLAYOFFS" into the grass of one hill, much like is seen on midfield on a football game.
It's a wonder the paint didn't wash away.
Then again, the Deutsche Bank Championship last year braced for remnants of Hurricane Earl to possibly wash out big chunks of the tournament outside Boston, and it never materialized.
Bad weather is not unusual in golf, and the tour has a policy to only reduce events to 54 holes if there is no way to finish on Monday. But this is not an ordinary event. Only the top 100 players in the FedEx Cup standings after The Barclays advance to the second round.
What might help is that the next event, the Deutsche Bank, doesn't start until Friday because of its traditional Labor Day finish. Only PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem has the authority to allow for a Tuesday finish if it comes to that.
"I don't think anybody has any clue," Charley Hoffman said after a 66. "I'm pretty sure 100 percent of us want to play 72 holes out here, and we all know the tournament (next week) doesn't start until Friday. So I'm pretty sure the players will commit to go to Tuesday if possible. But if this place gets 10 inches of rain two weeks in a row, I don't know how playable this golf course is going to be on Tuesday."
There was so much talk about weather that Watney said he heard a rumor that Manhattan might be evacuated. Left unsaid was how he heard such a thing while being too preoccupied with his golf to check on any such reports.
He found it fascinating, nonetheless.
"That would be quite a sight of evacuating Manhattan," he said. "Where would they all go. That's like 12 million people."
Everyone else just kept plugging away, coping with a course that was starting to get firm and fun until they returned from a rain delay and tried to control how much the ball was spinning once it landed on the green.
The tournament was a sellout even before it began, and despite the weather, there was plenty of cheers. With the tees moved up on the 18th hole this week, making it play 285 yards up the hill, the lone eagle came from Troy Matteson, who pitched in from 35 yards. Steven Bowditch hit his tee shot to within 5 feet, only to three-putt for a par.
Singh, who hit a beautiful approach into 6 feet on the tough 17th for birdie, drove to the front of the green on the 18th and chipped to 8 feet to close out his round of back-to-back birdies. That atoned for hitting into the water on the par-3 third.