Match Play Championship: Tucson weather was tough on fans at WGC-Accenture Match Play

2013-02-26T00:00:00Z 2013-03-10T19:07:32Z Match Play Championship: Tucson weather was tough on fans at WGC-Accenture Match PlayDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 26, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The lasting image of the 2013 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship is an obvious one.

When 64 of the world's best golfers were supposed to be tackling The Golf Club at Dove Mountain on Wednesday, they were nowhere to be found on the course.

Rather than competing in the first round, the world's best were enjoying their snow day.

Snowmen were built, snowball fights were had and jokes were told.

"It was fun," said Judy McDermott, the executive director of the Tucson Conquistadores. "It was something that was different and fun and the players had a good time with it."

Indeed it did show the field in a different light.

But while players were keeping busy and having fun, it wasn't golf weather.

The snow forced play to halt a little after 11 a.m., on Wednesday and then caused five delays Thursday morning because it was slow to melt.

"It was an adventure," McDermott said. "It's something that has really never happened. The tournament always gets so much coverage both nationally and internationally and this year it was getting attention because of the weather.

"The tough part is it's hard for spectators to go out in the cold."

Therein lies the problem.

While the snow was fun for the golfers, it was a tough tournament to navigate for fans.

Snow disrupted play Wednesday, its remnants slowed Thursday's action and high winds on Sunday made the mountain feel even blistery. There was also a 45-minute frost delay Saturday.

"We had all sorts of conditions," champion Matt Kuchar said. "It was quite crazy.

"I guess if you want some bad weather (in Southern Arizona), just have a golf tournament."

The Conquistadores worked closely with the PGA Tour to ensure fans would still have a good experience, despite the weather. Spectators who had tickets to Wednesday or Thursday were able to reuse them at the gate for free over the weekend.

"In a way, that kind of helped attendance," McDermott said. "The weather was no surprise. The weathermen were right and they knew what was going to happen.

"Unfortunately, people never really believe the weathermen."

Tim Finchem, the commissioner of the PGA Tour, also said the weather provided a chance for the players to be seen differently, and he didn't think it would effect the future of the tournament at Dove Mountain.

"I don't see any long term impact over unusual weather," Finchem said. "These are professionals and they can handle it."

Kuchar showed he could.

The 34-year-old American earned his first WGC win. His road to the Walter Hagen Cup included victories over Hiroyuki Fujita, Sergio Garcia, Nicolas Colsaerts, Robert Garrigus, Jason Day and last year's champion Hunter Mahan in the finale.

Kuchar closed them all out before the 18th.

"I think I was hiding in my ski cap and ski mitts and did a good job of covering up any sort of nervousness," Kuchar said of his championship win over Mahan. "I did a great job (Sunday) of being excited to hit the next shot. It's easy to go astray here. I enjoyed being out there I had a great time, but I was also very focused on what I was doing."

Kuchar and the rest of the field will be back next year and the Florida native will certainly be looking for a repeat.

McDermott, though, is hoping the weather isn't.

"Everyone was thrilled with the tournament," McDermott said. "But, it's just one of those things where you hope that next year, the weather is a little better."

Contact reporter Daniel Berk at dberk@azstarnet.com or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk.

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