Graeme McDowell amongst players to criticise USPGA officials

Rain water pools up on the first hole during the final round of the USPGA
Rain water pools up on the first hole during the final round of the USPGA

Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell criticised tournament officials after torrential rain interrupted the final round of the 96th US PGA Championship on Sunday.

Play was suspended for almost two hours after an inch of rain fell on an already saturated Valhalla course, pushing the tee time for the final group to 4:19pm.

In spite of rain being forecast, officials opted not to start play from two tees or allowed preferred lies to be used.

“We’ve never played preferred lies in a major so this is what you’re going to get,” said Poulter, who ran up a triple-bogey seven on the 12th during the downpour in a closing 72.

“You’re unfortunately going to get guys that are going to mis-hit a lot of shots and get badly punished. It might be someone’s week to win a major, and unfortunately it isn’t because of an awkward lie in a soggy fairway.”

Although the greens drained superbly due to a special sub-air system, Poulter felt play restarted too early on the sodden fairways.

“We pretty much took relief on every fairway and twice we had to take relief from the fairway into the rough to get a dry spot,” he added. “We were asked to stay in position on the 12th green too and it was just laughable in the end.

“Hold position, hold position, hang on a second, we can’t even see anything apart from water. There’s only so much rain an umbrella can keep off you. You’re going to get wet.”

Poulter now has just one event remaining, the first FedEx Cup event in a fortnight’s time, in which to try and qualify automatically for the Ryder Cup.

European team-mate McDowell also felt preferred lies should have been in operation, adding: “It was unplayable this morning. The ball should have been played up, simple. To me it’s fair out there if you can play the ball up.

“It’s casual water everywhere. The ball is picking up mud. No one said anything this morning because you’re three and four over par and no one really cares. We called it. We said this is going to get delayed with the second guys start stepping on the tee box and it means a lot to them. Sure enough, it did.

“Yeah, probably the heaviest downpours of the day (came) after they called it, but they should have just played the ball up. Common sense has to prevail at some point. You know, let’s lift, clean and place this thing. You go out to a PGA TOUR event and we wouldn’t have been playing.”