Play resumes after lengthy snow delay

Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:16pm EST
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

MARANA, Arizona (Reuters) - Play finally got under way at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship on Thursday after the resumption of the snow delayed first-round matches was pushed back four-and-a-half hours.

Two more inches of snow fell overnight at Dove Mountain's Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, lifting the total to four inches in under 24 hours, and hopes for a quick melt were dashed by plunging temperatures and early morning frost.

Officials repeatedly altered restart times as the par-72 course remained blanketed in white but, after the snow had finally disappeared in the desert sunshine, first-round matches resumed at 1 p.m. local time (3.00 p.m. ET).

With parts of the layout still very wet, officials said players would be permitted to lift, clean and replace balls in the fairway.

Though morning frost has been forecast for the rest of the week at the elite World Golf Championships (WGC) event, being played at 2,800 feet above sea level, conditions are expected to warm up on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

"We'll stay in the 50s (F) the next couple of days, back to the low 60s on Saturday, and then probably upper 50s again on Sunday as another little weak front goes by," the PGA Tour's on-site meteorologist Stewart Williams told reporters.

"But it doesn't look like it has any moisture with it, so it's just going to drop our temperature a few degrees. Unfortunately we'll have below normal temperatures for the rest of the week, but at least we'll have some sun."

Just over three-and-a-half hours of golf was possible on Wednesday because of driving rain, sleet and then snow after 23 of the 32 matches had started with none finishing.   Continued...

Rafael Cabrera-Bello of Spain warms up on the driving range during the weather delayed first round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship golf tourament in Marana, Arizona, February 21, 2013. REUTERS/Ralph Freso