April 10, 2003
Q. If it does continue like this, is there a danger that the course would still have too much water on it tomorrow morning to get this started?
WILL NICHOLSON: Although we have heard some varying comments from our weather people, they assure me that it's going to clear midnight, give or take a little. And we have got a pretty good day in front of us tomorrow with some sun coming out tomorrow afternoon. If you look at the map, we're sitting in a low pressure system, it's like you put a compass and you put the pen end of the compass in Augusta and drew a circle around it and that's what's been happening. And we have been in the hole of that donut for a couple hours and the rain hasn't come, but it's raining heavily west of here and we just think it was unfair to start play.
Q. Has the first round ever been postponed?
WILL NICHOLSON: I would have to -- somebody would have to -- no, I think recently in my experience here it was either in 1982 or 1983.
Q. That was the second round?
WILL NICHOLSON: Was that the second round? Okay. I knew we lost one full round. You have done your homework already.
Q. Glenn Greenspan has.
WILL NICHOLSON: Okay, thanks Glenn.
Q. Would you take us through the schedule? You say the second round will start at 1:30 tomorrow. Can you take us through from there, please, as to what you anticipate is going to happen on Saturday.
WILL NICHOLSON: I would suspect that if the weather is as good as they say it is, we have an outside chance of completing 36 tomorrow. I think it's probably more probable that we'll have, oh, three or four groups on each side still on the golf course Saturday morning, finish them early Saturday, re-pair and start the third round approximately 10:30, 11 o'clock, something like that on Saturday. And then we'll be back on schedule.
Q. So you would be optimistic of finishing on Sunday?
WILL NICHOLSON: If at all possible we'll finish on Sunday.
Q. Given the conditions.
WILL NICHOLSON: Yes, sir. And pretty consistently it looks like the weather is going to be good Saturday and Sunday.
Q. You said you thought the course was marginally playable today, what specifically would more rain do? What were the areas that would be threatened on the course?
WILL NICHOLSON: The hole I was personally most concerned about was 3. On 3 we had a terrible time even this morning finding some places for relief from casual water. And with any more rain on it I'm not sure there would be any place on the third hole there would be relief from casual water.
Q. Was there likely to be standing water on several of the greens even with a little more rain?
WILL NICHOLSON: No. If you haven't seen it, you should go out and see the system that we have under the greens, the sub air system. And you'll see where the outlets are. And the one that immediately comes to mind for me is on 8 and it's right by that score board to the left of the green on 8. You'll see a plume of water, it looks like a sprinkler has broken. And that's the water that's being sucked out of the green and thrown out into the atmosphere. The greens don't have much water, they're soft, but that sub air system sucks it out very very well.
Q. Were any hole locations moved this morning to get the course ready?
WILL NICHOLSON: No, we left them. We made the decision yesterday and we went to high ground for both today and tomorrow. And all the high points we're using today and tomorrow. We originally had some low points scheduled, but when we saw the weather we didn't do it.
Q. The area around the putting green and the first tee and the lawn was remarkably wet there. How much of a concern do you have for patron safety out on the course?
WILL NICHOLSON: We have a tremendous concern for safety of spectators, Marsh Benson and Brad Owens and their crew are doing everything possible in spreading sand and other materials for that very reason. Uppermost in our mind is the safety of our spectators.
Q. How much rain would you say has fallen since the start of the week?
WILL NICHOLSON: Glenn, you back there? Glenn, find out -- I think it's about two and a half inches since Sunday, but.
GLENN GREENSPAN: It's a little bit under four. 3.85.
WILL NICHOLSON: That's why I asked for a confirmation. I hear so many things. A little under four inches since Sunday. I live in Denver, Colorado and an average rainfall is something in the order of about 14 inches per year.
Q. What is the process for patrons today? How long can they stay on the grounds? Are they staying indefinitely?
WILL NICHOLSON: They can stay indefinitely, as long as any player wants to go to the putting clock or go to the practice field, they're free to go there.
Q. Was there any thought or consideration of closing the golf course earlier in the week just to keep spectators and people away so that it wouldn't be any harm or damage done to the course?
WILL NICHOLSON: As you know, we did that on Monday. The weather forecast for Tuesday turned out to be different than what the weather was. And here we are.
Q. Have you ever seen any golf tournament in which the first two rounds have been concluded in one day?
WILL NICHOLSON: Oh, I'm sure there have been, I can't think in my experience, which goes back 30 years here and the USGA, we never had that situation. But I'm sure there have been.
Q. Depending upon what happens with the rain overnight is there any consideration at all to lift, clean and place, if that means not finishing the tournament by Sunday?
WILL NICHOLSON: No, sir.
Q. Could you tell us why? Just for the record.
WILL NICHOLSON: We believe that's the traditional way to play the game and that's the way we intend to play the game. And if you haven't done it, and you think about playing in the rain, read that book The Greatest Game Ever Played. The story about Francis Ouimet and Vardon at Brookline in 1913. And they played in some horrible weather. I'll push that book, it's a great book. It's a good yarn. It's a good yarn.
(Laughter.) And I'm not getting any royalties.
Q. In your experience is this unprecedented, is this the worst weather you've ever seen in your 30 some years?
WILL NICHOLSON: I can't think of any worse than this. Although I can think of some worse weather. You all were here last year, those of you that were here last year, two weeks after that we had a, our closing party, and we had some rain that came down about five o'clock and between the 9th and the 18th green they laid some sod covering up where the patrons had been walking up the hill. And after the rain stopped it looked like the sod had never been laid. The rain rolled it up into nice neat little rolls at the bottom of the hill.
Q. Could you help us describe some other places on the course besides 3 that were specifically problem areas?
WILL NICHOLSON: I'll start with the one that was the best, which you could imagine. Number 5 was in great shape because that's all a new hole. 3, the biggest concern we had other than 3 was the landing area on 1. Not the flat area, because the flat area was very dry. But with the heavy air a lot of folks were going to be on the hill and the hill was very wet on number 1.
18 was in pretty good shape. We were hand mowing it about 10 o'clock. And I was out on it and it was in good shape. The ground was firm. There was no casual water. But I'm sure there's casual water out there now.
Q. When you talked about meeting with the Europe and PGA people and the USGA people, and people that you described, could you tell us, please, what time that was? Was that first light?
WILL NICHOLSON: They were all here at my request first light. I helped them at their tournament and they help us and we have developed a great friendship. And with their experience it would be wrong for us not to use it.
Q. Can you describe the sub air system to us and tell us how long you've been using the sub air system?
WILL NICHOLSON: Glenn, you've got to help me. Glenn will get the exact details on this. This is a layman's knowledge of it. It's a system of pipes that are underneath all 18 greens. It's connected to a suction system that pulls air down through the green. It depends on the porosity of the green. It pulls air down through the green and with it water. And then it comes back out of the exhaust vents. As I say, the one that immediately comes to mind is right off the left side of the 8th. And there's one on every hole. We have been using it on all 18 holes for -- I think this is the third year. We had it on some and now we have got it on 18 and we're running a test on a couple of landing areas:
Q. Could you clarify, some of the players had said they would be very surprised if it didn't continue on until Monday and play on Monday. Could you say that there's no chance of playing on Monday whatsoever?
WILL NICHOLSON: I learned a long time ago never speculate what may or may not happen in the future. If we have weather other than what we're told, we will complete 72 holes some time.
(Laughter.) Is that a fair answer to your question? We have had a Monday finish one time. I can't remember what it was. Glenn, have you gotten that for him?
GLENN GREENSPAN: 1983.
WILL NICHOLSON: Thank you. Thank you. Let me add a little comment to the condition of the course right now. I've been down here since Tuesday night at dinner time. All of last week, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and up until noon time on Sunday. This course was never in better condition. The fairways were firm, they were fast, the greens were firm, the pace was picking up. It was absolutely perfect. I thought we had an opportunity to play this course the way the course is designed and unfortunately we still have not yet seen that.
Q. Given that five of the last six years have been disrupted by weather, has there been any thought to changing the date to May perhaps or something?
WILL NICHOLSON: No. As I said, we're traditionalists, and the tradition is starting on the first full week that begins on Sunday in April. And here we are.
JIM BLANCHARD: Thank you ladies and gentlemen. Thank you, Will.
WILL NICHOLSON: Appreciate it. Thank you.
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