Golf

Nelson tournament changes course midstream due to heavy rain

Jordan Spieth hits a tee shot on the shortened 14th hole during the second round of the Byron Nelson golf tournament on Friday. The 14th fairway was washed over by a flash flood so the the hole was shortened to a 100-yard par 3.
Jordan Spieth hits a tee shot on the shortened 14th hole during the second round of the Byron Nelson golf tournament on Friday. The 14th fairway was washed over by a flash flood so the the hole was shortened to a 100-yard par 3. AP

The 4 1/2 inches of rain that fell overnight before Friday’s second round at the already water-logged AT&T Byron Nelson, forced officials to shorten the par-4 14th hole to a 104-yard par 3 chip shot, and made 69 an even-par round for the day.

“We’ve had such bizarre weather out here that there was nothing you could have done about that, either that or not play the round,” said Jon Curran, whose 6-under 63 at the TPC Four Seasons Resort gave him a share of the 36-hole lead with Jimmy Walker and Steven Bowditch at 9-under 130. “They made a great decision to play it as a par 3.”

Gary Woodland aced the hole around noon Friday, on his way to a 63. The ball landed in front of the pin, took two hops past, then spun back into the hole.

“I had a perfect number for me. Knocked a little sand wedge in there and then road the momentum all day,” said Woodland, who’s at 4-under 135.

The start of second-round play was delayed three hours. As a result, 33 players were unable to finish their rounds due to darkness. Second-round players will start at 8 a.m. Saturday .

“The 14th fairway is unplayable where we drive the ball. We had no place to go,” said Slugger White, PGA Tour vice president of rules and competitions. “We’d be losing balls, and the conditions rendered the hole unplayable.”

Usually, No. 14 is a 406-yard downhill layout, with a steep left-to-right slope. The second shot is a wedge across a small lake to a shallow green.

“It’s different walking up to 104 yards and playing it that way,” said former Mansfield High player Martin Flores, who made birdie and shot a 69 Friday. “It’s really wet out, and they’re doing the best that they can.”

Of the 150 to play the hole, 48 made birdie and eight had a bogey. The improvised No. 14 meant that second-round data for the hole was not available.

PGA Tour officials intended to keep No. 14 a par-4, but changed that plan after 28 of the first 30 players recorded an eagle-2 on the hole. The average birdie putt was 14 feet, 8 inches.

“Yeah, still a hole-in-one,” said Woodland, who won closest to the pin. “I’ll take it either way. Par 3, par 4, I’ll take it anyway I can.”

No. 14’s temporary tee, complete with boxed AT&T logo markers, was a high spot in the fairway, about 10 yards in front of the water. The tee shot needed to travel about 75 yards to clear the water.

“We would take a drive there any day, so didn’t really matter what the par is,” said Nick Watney, who shot a 65.

Players and caddies were shuttled in carts about 400 yards from the 13th green to the new 14th tee. At 14, they had to navigate a plywood walkway, covered with black artificial turf, from the cart path to the tee box.

“We were all kind of looking at each other and laughing because we’ve never been through that, where the tee is just getting really beat up and muddy,” Watney said. “But you know they’re doing the best they can.”

Walker, from San Antonio and winner of the Alamo City’s Valero Texas Open title in March, was among the last to play 14.

“That par-4/3 was interesting,” he said. “It got pretty beat up when we were there. There at the end of the day it’s pretty beat-up. Those guys are going to have to play a pretty beat-up tee.”

Eric Zarate, 817-390-7237

Twitter: @zarate_eric

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