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February 21, 2013

Desert snow-asis; play halted

MARANA, Ariz. — The best 64 golfers in the world got together for the first time this season and a snow fight broke out.

In the most bizarre episode of a PGA Tour season already filled with wacky weather, the opening round of the Match Play Championship lasted only 31⁄2 hours Wednesday until it was suspended by a winter storm that covered Dove Mountain with nearly 2 inches of snow.

Rickie Fowler wasn’t firing at flags. He was slinging snowballs.

There was no “snowman” on anyone’s scorecard — golf slang for an 8 — but there was one built on a green at the practice range.

“I’ve never actually played golf to the point where we’ve actually stopped for snow, which is kind of crazy,” said Jason Day of Australia, who was 6 up through 10 holes over Zach Johnson. “A little crazy for it to snow in the desert, as well. But that’s just how it is. Mother Nature can do whatever she wants.”

Ten matches had not even started when players were called off the course as slush was starting to form on the greens. Two hours later, there was a blanket of snow as temperatures dipped as low as 33 degrees. The rest of the day was called off.

“I’ve seen snow on the course when I was a kid, but nothing like that on any of the tours,” said Rory McIlroy, whose match, along with Tiger Woods’, was among those that never got started.

Sergio Garcia, in the leadoff match, had just holed a 10-foot par putt to win the 15th hole and go 2 up over Thongchai Jaidee when play was suspended.

The opening round was to resume at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, and the second round would start sometime that afternoon. The 64-man field is cut in half after each round, and with sunshine in the forecast the rest of the week, it should not be difficult to get caught up.

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