PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Tuesday was the type of day that most Canadian visitors wouldn’t mind on a trip to Florida.
By the afternoon, the temperature was hovering around 20 C under a cloudless, blue sky, so shorts were still comfortable attire, but the blustery conditions made malls in the Sunshine State a more desirable destination than the beach.
Players in the Titleist and FootJoy Canadian PGA Club Professional Championship might have preferred shopping as well because outdoors at the PGA Golf Club’s Wanamaker Course, they couldn’t buy a birdie.
On a course that is already renowned among the Canadians for its slick, undulating greens and tight landing areas off the tee, the last thing they needed to see was another factor adding to the degree of difficulty.
The wind that dominated the first round, causing the scoring average to soar to 77.51, kicked up even more on Tuesday, when the average came in at 79.9. The complaints heard afterwards were more than whines from somebody who had a bad round. Everyone had something to say about the conditions.
“Yesterday was pretty breezy, but today, it’s even worse. If you don’t hit the perfect shot, you’re going to pay for it,” said Carlo Blanchard, head professional at the St. Raphael Club de Golf in Ile Bizard, Que.
“The greens are pretty slick and, with the wind, if you’ve got a 40, 50-footer out there, there’s going to be three putts many times,” he added.
“You get intimidated. You know if you miss a bit, up and down would be very tough to make. Instead of making birdies, you’re trying to save par, but bogey’s always on your mind. They add up. Pretty soon, you’re three, four, five over par and you think, `Where am I going from here?’
“This place is always windy. As a matter of fact, at the beginning of the week in the practice round, we had the wind completely different than this one and then, we had a weather change on Monday. It got much cooler and the wind is completely the opposite from when we started the tournament,” said Blanchard, who shot a 79.
Ken Tarling, of Ken Tarling Teaching Academy in Stouffville, Ont., got here last week and says the dramatic change in the conditions began on Sunday.
“The winds changed. Those of us who were here early played it from the south when the weather was really warm, in the mid-to-high 80s, low 90s,” said Tarling, the 2001 champion of this event, who shot a 77.
“Today, because of the cold at the beginning of the morning, the ball’s not going as far to begin with and then, the wind hits it on top of it and it makes it even tougher.
“It’s Florida. There’s not a whole lot going to stop this wind. There’s just nothing around it. The trees are short, normally not very high trees, so nothing to buffer or knock it down at all. It’s a pretty heavy wind.
“We found that the wind into us was at least a club or two and downwind, it was almost so strong it was flattening the ball out. It wasn’t allowing it to get up in the air,” said Tarling, adding that he experienced that effect personally.
“I had a 157-yard 8-iron downwind (on the second hole) that went about 145 yards, which isn’t long at all for an 8-iron, and it was hit solid. It was just that the wind wouldn’t let it get up and into it.”
The temperature won’t be going up either. As a matter of fact, it’s going in the opposite direction as Wednesday’s forecast calls for temperatures of 17 C, with the wind still kicking up and a 10 per cent chance of rain.
This year’s winner will either be the meteorologist or a true survivor.