Players Championship: Powerful storm wreaks havoc as golf tournament suffers further delays

    Assistant Superintendent, John Michael Clark, tends to water on a green at TPC Sawgrass on March 11, 2022 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

    (CNN)The Players Championship is set for its latest finish in at least 17 years after a powerful storm delayed the PGA Tour event for a second successive day in Florida.

    Play at Ponte Vedra Beach's TPC Sawgrass course has faced severe disruption since the tournament got underway on Thursday, with almost three inches of rainfall across 48 hours.
    Approaching what would typically be the tournament's penultimate day on Saturday, 47 players are yet to complete their first round.
      Florida is currently under tornado watch until 11 a.m. E.T Saturday -- the earliest time the Tour said play will resume -- with possibilities of tornadoes, winds of up to 70 mph, and heavy rain the key concerns, according to CNN weather's team.
        Justin Rose of England lines up a putt as caddie David Clark holds an umbrella.
        Flooding caused by additional rain could be particularly disruptive for grounds staff at The Players -- nicknamed 'the fifth major' for its prestige -- and looks set to extend the tournament to, at a minimum, its first Monday finish since 2005.
        "Unfortunately, the weather conditions are not providing us any relief," Chief Referee Gary Young said on Friday.
        "Our desire is to not have anyone on the property at that time," added Young, referring to the projected severe weather system on Saturday. "We are into a Monday finish. We know that."
          The rain and severe storm threat will have passed by midday Saturday, according to the CNN weather team, though temperatures will plummet and strong winds of up to 40 mph look set to prolong difficulties for golfers.
          Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland lines up his putt amid the rain.


          On the eve of the tournament, Young said organizers were "confident" in their ability to navigate bad weather, yet issues began also immediately when overnight rainfall delayed the start by an hour.
          Play was resumed only to be later suspended for over four hours due to dangerous weather, Thursday ultimately concluding with 69 players -- less than half the field -- completing their first round.
          Friday saw little improvement -- just 22 more players completing their opening rounds before heavy rain saw play called off after four hours.
          "The golf course has reached a point where it's unplayable," Young said Friday.