by Ronan MacNamara
Rory McIlroy. By Golffile
Rory McIlroy will go to bed dreaming of how he will hit his second shot from 215 yards on the par-5 16th on Saturday after inclement weather saw play abandoned on Friday afternoon at The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.
Having played just two holes of his first round on Thursday after a delay of over five hours, the Holywood native is yet to complete his opening 18 holes and he will resume from no earlier than 4pm Irish time on Saturday.
Tournament chief admitted that a Monday finish was certain for the event and raised the possibility of a Tuesday finish and a six-day marathon event.
The Players has gone to a finish on five occasions but not since Fred Funk’s victory in 2005.
Seamus Power will return to complete the final four holes of what was turning out to be an encouraging opening round.
The West Waterford native will sit on his one-under-par score for quite a while and Irish fans might fear that the bad weather has rained on his parade after he had eagled the par-5 2nd, his 11th to move into red figures.
In contrast, the break could have come at the most opportune time for McIlroy who cut a frustrated and agitated figure in the torrential rain.
After closing out his second hole with a birdie in the darkness on Thursday night, the 2019 Players Champion returned to the course on Friday with a vengeance, reeling off a brace of birdies to move to two-under.
A charge towards overnight leaders Tommy Fleetwood and Tom Hoge – who could go 48 hours without hitting a golf ball – never materialized as McIlroy struggled from there.
A very sloppy bogey with a wedge in hand followed on the 6th hole before the ugly block cut from Bay Hill began to rear its ugly head.
The 32-year-old dropped his second shot of the day on the tenth with another short club in his hand for his approach shot before he fell the wrong side of par with a bogey on 14 after finding trouble off the tee and failing to wedge and putt for his par.
McIlroy will return to a drier fairway on Saturday and as the clouds part, perhaps he can put on a fast finish before facing a quick turnaround to get his second round underway.
Power will be hoping his momentum hasn’t stalled with the 34-year-old on course to edge away from the top-50 bubble and rise to 48th in the Official World Golf Rankings with the cut off for the Masters coming on the 28th of this month.
As the conditions worsened, he remained tough. After an early birdie on the par-5 11th Power fell over-par after a brace of bogeys on 12 and 13 and a nice birdie two on the 17th was cancelled out by a third dropped shot of the day on 18.
The Barbasol Champion did light up the round rolling in a 13-foot eagle putt to get back on the right side of par and move to a share of 59th place.
Fleetwood and Hoge are still leading but they have company in the shape of Bryce Garnett who is six-under through 13 holes and was the hottest man on the course, holing out for an eagle two on the 4th before the hooter sounded.
Shane Lowry was unable to return to the course on Friday so he will sleep on his opening round 73 and hopefully tee off from one-over at some stage on Saturday.
If the storms stay away that won’t mean a break in the weather with high winds and cool conditions forecast for the weekend.