Wet road ahead for Harrison Frazar
EDISON, N.J. -- Before Harrison Frazar won the FedEx St. Jude's Classic in June, the only trophy he ever received as a pro -- outside of a 1997 Nationwide Tour victory -- was one his sons made for him out of wood after he finished first at the '08 PGA Tour Q-school.
Starting 2011 on a major medical exemption after hip, knee and shoulder problems limited him to 17 starts and a 187th ranking on the money list last year, the 40-year-old former Texas Longhorn seriously considered quitting the game before his win in Memphis, where he beat Robert Karlsson on the first playoff hole.
The Barclays Leaderboard
First round suspended
T-1. Frazar (-7)
(-7 through 16)
T-1. McGirt (-7 through 11)
T-4. Singh (-6)
T-4. Byrd (-6)
T-4. Stroud (-6 through 13)
• Complete scores
Now he sits atop the leaderboard at 7 under -- along with Matt Kuchar (through 16 holes) and William McGirt (who finished just 11 holes) -- at the Barclays after shooting a bogey-free 64 on a Plainfield Country Club that was saturated with rain Thursday morning. Play was suspended due to darkness.
"I feel like I didn't play well enough to shoot 64," said Frazar, who finished 12 holes before a rain delay halted the round for three hours. "I didn't start out well. I didn't hit the ball good the first seven, eight holes. But I settled down and played well on the back nine."
Frazar's latest good fortune is that he finished. Several groups in the afternoon wave didn't start their rounds until after 4 p.m. ET and, weather permitting, will finish on Friday morning. Fifty-one players didn't finish their rounds Thursday.
"With the way the weather is coming, I didn't want to have to sit around and play too much tomorrow or too much Saturday," Frazar said. "It's going to be a long week by the time this thing is over."
The center of Hurricane Irene could hit the area as early as Saturday night and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has already declared a state of emergency. According to the Weather Channel, Irene could be a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 85 mph upon landfall. If that isn't enough, on Tuesday, earthquake tremors were felt on the course.
The mood Thursday, though, was optimistic but realistic about the impact of the storm on the tournament.
"Out here, the vibe and the focus is Barclays and the FedEx Cup and to try to play golf," said Frazar. "We are all sensitive to what the people on the East Coast are going through.
"A lot of the [players] here are from Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina. They have homes that they are worried about."
The PGA Tour will do everything in its power to complete the tournament, except try to cram the last 36 holes in on Saturday to beat the storm.
"We don't have enough daylight," said Slugger White, the PGA Tour tournament director. "Plus, we don't have a very good forecast for Saturday afternoon."
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White said that the tournament could finish on a Monday or Tuesday, which luckily for the players shouldn't be a major concern since the second leg of the playoffs, the Deutsche Bank Championship, doesn't start until Friday. But White said that a Tuesday finish would be at the discretion of PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem. White also stated that the tour is taking precautions for the forecast by taking down scoreboards that could be blown near homes around the golf course.
Last week, Plainfield C.C. was hit with 13 inches of rain, according to White. So the course was already very soft. As a result, balls were plugging in the fairway during the first round.
"The shots into the green are just hitting and just stopping where they are," said Frazar. "If they have got any spin on them at all, they are pulling off the green.
"I would say that 16 of the holes are fine and could probably take more [rain]. But 13 and 14, I don't know how much more those greens can take. That creek in there I think can get up pretty quickly."
White said that the condition of the course will depend on how much it continues to rain.
"If we get five or seven inches of rain here, we are probably dead in the water," White said.
The soft conditions resulted in more than 20 rounds under par on Thursday. From the outset, players could lift, clean and place their balls on the soggy fairways. As always, tour officials prefer that their venues play fast and firm, but Mother Nature doesn't always go along with the plans for course setups.
"It would have been nice to see this golf course play firm," said Adam Scott, who shot a 5-under 66 on Thursday. "I think it firmed up a lot from yesterday morning when I was in the pro-am until this morning and it was starting to play very nice and now it's gone soft again, so that's disappointing."
The players and the PGA Tour will settle for a 72-hole tournament. It will be a wait-and-see situation for everybody.
"We are all concerned about it, but it doesn't do us any good," said Frazar. "It's not in our power to do anything about it or worry about it. So you know, if they tell us to play golf, we go play golf. If they tell us we are going to speed up and play 36 on Saturday and go home, then we'll deal with it."
Farrell Evans covers golf for ESPN and can be contacted at email@example.com