Sam Saunders watches his drive. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- Tree limbs were falling as well as putts. What was being called "The storm of the decade" hit the Genesis Open just before noon local time Friday, forcing officials to call off play without first-round leader Sam Saunders -- Arnold Palmer's grandson -- even hitting a single shot.
Jhonattan Vegas did play 14 holes, went 3 under par, and with his 4-under 67 Thursday at Riviera Country Club was at 7 under, moving into a tie with Saunders, who on Thursday had a 7-under 64.
"We were extremely fortunate to get as far as we got," said PGA Tour rules official Mark Russell. "I was expecting to come in here (Friday) morning and maybe not even be able to play. But we got in about five hours, 15 minutes, which was a huge help.
"It's going to get nothing but worse. So my thought and the staff's thought was, 'Let's get the spectators and players out of here and somewhat safe, and we'll see what we do Saturday."
What they plan to do is have the golfers who didn't finish the second round -- 21 in the field of 144 did finish, but only Cameron Percy (66-71--137) among the leaders -- return at 7 a.m. PST and complete the round. The field would then regroup and start the third round, still on target for a Sunday finish.
Although the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at Monterey, some 300 miles up the coast, and won last weekend by Jordan Spieth, is infamous for bad weather, this tournament -- the former Los Angeles Open -- has had its share. In the early 2000s, there was rain for seven straight tournaments.
Riviera is in coastal canyon within a mile of the Pacific Ocean. Drainage is good except for a few holes.
"If we don't get five inches of rain overnight," said Russell, "hopefully we can play golf in the morning."
Dustin Johnson, the U.S. Open champion and two behind after a 66 on Thursday, also never got started on Friday. But Spieth did, playing his final two holes of the first round in even par for a 2-under 69 and then going 3 under for another 16 holes before the suspension to sit at 5 under for 34 holes.
"Things aren't always going to go your way on a day like today," said Spieth, who is trying get a California double by adding a Genesis win to the AT&T.
"Actually they're going to do your way. So try and pick your spots on the easy holes and then from there hit putts with the right speed and make it as stress free as possible."
Vegas, of Venezuela, a two-time winner on the PGA, said, "I knew I was going to hit a lot of bad shots, But you get opportunities on this course, so I just tried to stay patient out there."
And away from the falling eucalyptus branches, a hazard one normally wouldn't find on a golf course.