SBD/July 2, 2012/Events and AttractionsPrint All
The PGA Tour AT&T National drew 48,611 fans to Congressional Country Club yesterday for the tournament's final round, a day after the damage from thunderstorms Friday “left organizers to stage the event without fans allowed on the course,” according to Barry Svrluga of the WASHINGTON POST (7/2). In DC, Zachary Holden notes spectators arriving at Congressional yesterday were “greeted by tennis court fences bent in from the hurricane force winds Friday night.” Tournament Dir Greg McLaughlin said, “We wanted to focus on cleaning all of the debris outside the ropes.” He said organizers “had to get the hospitality tent in shape” before they would allow fans back in. Tickets for Saturday’s round “were honored Sunday,” and a refund will be “offered to those who had tickets for both weekend rounds” (WASHINGTON TIMES, 7/2). Svrluga noted the thunderstorms “felled at least 40 trees on Congressional’s grounds,” and tournament organizers “made the decision early Saturday morning … to close the course to fans and most of the 2,000 volunteers used to conduct the event.” The debris was “just too significant, and potentially too hazardous, with broken limbs across the course hanging delicately, as if waiting to fall on passersby.” McLaughlin: “From a safety standpoint, it made sense because you’re talking about 25-30,000 people, and then you’re talking about 2,000 volunteers. You have to be so far out in front of that.” Svrluga noted one tree "fell across the 14th fairway,” and another “blocked the 18th fairway.” Woods on Saturday said, “It was amazing today that we got it in. The staff, maintenance crew, all the volunteers picking up twigs and getting everything cleared up so we could give it a go today was an amazing effort" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/1).
THE SOUND OF SILENCE: PGA Tour officials said that they “believed this was the first time fans hadn’t been allowed into a Tour event.” In N.Y., Justin Tasch noted the '00 Champions Tour Boone Valley Classic was the only other tourney in which a "similar situation occurred.” Fans were not permitted entry “after the severe weather left the parking lots in shambles” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/1). The AP’s Doug Ferguson noted Woods on Saturday “had the largest crowd of the day, though it never topped 100 people.” Golfer Brendon de Jonge had “as many birdies (three) as people in his gallery.” Woods said, "I've played in front of people like this. But not generally for an 18-hole competitive round." Golfer Bo Van Pelt said, "I told Tiger that was a Bo Van Pelt crowd, so I was used to that. I was very comfortable with 10 or 15 people watching me play golf" (AP, 6/30). In DC, Kevin Dunleavy wrote Saturday was “a strange day full of humorous scenes.” As players teed off for the round, they were “introduced as usual, and many waved to the imaginary crowd.” After “holing out for a birdie at No. 4 Robert Garrigus, tipped his cap dramatically to the sound of silence.” Golfer Jim Furyk said, "There was only one guy following us. It's a lot more fun when the fans are out." As Furyk's group “finished up and walked off the green at No. 9, the lone fan clapped in appreciation.” Golfer Ricky Barnes joked, "Is that all you got?" (WASHINGTON EXAMINER, 7/1). GolfChannel.com's Jason Sobel said the third round “was an eerie situation.” Sobel: “But a lot of the public and the media were making it out to be like, ‘Oh my goodness, these guys have never played in front of no one before.’ These guys play every day in front of nobody” ("Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 7/2).
LOOKING AHEAD: In West Virginia, Kathryn Gregory reported the Greenbrier Resort was “hit hard by Friday's storm, but owner Jim Justice said he won't let the damage stop the upcoming Greenbrier Classic,” which begins today. Although the resort and surrounding town did not lose power, Justice said that a “large number of spectator and skyboxes that had been set up for the Classic are ‘completely destroyed.’” Justice: “I've got a Chairmen's tent that looks like a bomb went off in it." He said some tall CBS camera locations that had been set up around the course were "torn to pieces." He added that the green on the 16th hole “is in bad shape … after a major sycamore tree fell.” Justice said that the spectators box on 16 “is also completely down.” More than 200 volunteers “have been working through the night to start cleaning the debris, but Justice said they could use more help” (CHARLESTON GAZETTE, 7/1).
Nothing during the first week of Wimbledon has “created more drama, inspired more debate and changed the course of events" as the $125M retractable roof on Centre Court, according to Stephanie Myles of the Montreal GAZETTE. The roof was completed in time for the '09 tournament, and during the first two years, the roof “was barely used -- the weather was unusually good, and the Centre Court matches didn’t extend so long that they needed to finish them despite failing light.” However, this year, “it is undergoing a true baptism of fire.” Everyone “saw the roof effect” on Thursday night, after Rafael Nadal had “established the momentum in taking the fourth set" from Lukas Rosol in their second-round match. Play was stopped to close the roof, “which takes about 40 minutes, because not only must the roof slide over Centre Court, but the lights must take effect, and the climate control adjusted to account for the 15,000 warm bodies, to ensure the humidity of the newly-closed venue doesn’t make the grass slippery and dangerous.” When the two returned for the fifth set, “it was a completely different match,” which Rosol won. Wimbledon officials “chose not to close the roof for Caroline Wozniacki’s match against Tamira Paszek earlier in the week; it was stopped at 2-2 in the first set because of fading light.” Myles wrote, “Why not close it? It was probably because it was already the fourth match of the day on the court, so the tennis commitment had been met. It also was only the first round, and it was very early in the match.” It was also, “possibly -- and this has been a sensitive topic this Wimbledon -- because it was a women’s match.” When Wozniacki and Paszek “resumed on a rainy Wednesday, it was under the roof while the rest of the courts were covered.” Despite the return of clear skies, the roof “remained closed the rest of the day and night,” and that “caused more confusion” (Montreal GAZETTE, 7/1).
PUT A LID ON IT: In N.Y., Christopher Clarey wrote Wimbledon “still has a roof issue, and it has little to do with rain.” The roof was “closed from start to finish as a precautionary measure on Friday,” while the “other 18 match courts at Wimbledon were in full service outdoors.” Clarey wrote, “There is little doubt that the system works well. But its existence has created issues that were not clear initially. Above all, it is gradually transforming Wimbledon into a night tournament even though it has no official night sessions.” Wimbledon is “now considering building a roof on its No. 1 Court, which was designed to be roof-ready but still presents significant engineering challenges” (N.Y. TIMES, 6/30).
PLAYING LIKE TWO DIFFERENT TOURNEYS: The AFP's Dave James reports Wimbledon was "hit by heavy rain" as concerns grew that the Centre Court roof "was transforming the 126-year-old event into an outdoor an indoor tournament at the same time." The "gloomy conditions provoked more debate" over the roof. Top-ranked men's player Novak Djokovic said, "This is an outdoor tournament, so I think everybody wants to play when the roof is open. I was a little bit surprised when I saw sunshine that the roof is closed. But obviously they're relying on the forecast that I don't think is very reliable here" (AFP, 7/2). ESPN’s Mike Tirico said, “It just felt odd that one day, Friday, we had play going on outside and the wind was a factor, and then we bounce back into Centre Court and things were calm and there was no wind. It felt like two different tournaments that were going on at one point.” Tirico asked, “I wonder if that’s why they tried to get as much roof-open action in as possible today?” ESPN’s Mary Joe Fernandez said Wimbledon “makes the point that this is an outdoor tournament, so they try as hard as possible to have the roof be open." Fernandez: "That’s why that Friday was a little bit confusing because it ended up not raining” (“Wimbledon,” ESPN, 7/2).
THE GRASS IS GREENER: ESPN.com’s Greg Garber noted the 28-man grounds crew at Wimbledon typically "takes the day off" following the end of the tourney, then "leisurely dismantles the scorched grass over a three-to-four-week period." Reseeding also is a "lengthy process.” However, with the Olympics looming, “they'll do it all in 24 hours” this year. Garber noted the courts will be “covered to produce a humid, greenhouse effect conducive to quick growth.” Hopefully, “in a little over a week's time, the grass will reach a height of 14 millimeters and be trimmed to the regulation eight millimeters” (ESPN.com, 7/1).