Plan A for Wichita Open tournament director Roy Turner was to attend a player party at the conclusion of Thursday’s opening round at Crestview Country Club.
Plan B involved trying to figure out a way to get 69 golfers off the course when darkness suspended play after a four-hour weather delay earlier in the day.
Plan A eventually happened for Turner, but not until Plan B was executed after lightning and heavy rain delayed the opening round by four hours. The first day of golf at Crestview’s North course featured lots of alternative planning as it continued until darkness suspended play after 8:30 p.m.
“We have volunteers, the golfers, parking, security officers, the food — everything has to move,” Turner said while waiting out the delay. “You only prepare for one time period, so we’re still putting fires out.”
The tournament’s first calendar venture into June in its 22-year history had an ominous beginning, thanks to storms that dumped almost two inches of rain on the course. While golfers dined and lounged in the Crestview clubhouse, Turner and his staff scrambled to ensure golfer and spectator amenities were in place to accommodate the schedule changes.
The delay was similar to the opening round of the 2009 Wichita Open, when play was suspended for almost three hours due to dangerous weather conditions.
“It’s just very frustrating, but you do your best and hope people can understand there’s nothing you can do about the weather,” Turner said.
By late afternoon, Turner was in a familiar spot, cruising around the course in an uncovered golf cart. While the wind blew hard, the sun was shining and all systems were go.
“It’s nothing every other tournament hasn’t gone through,” Turner said. “I’m still as excited as ever.”
Meaningful memo — Kyle Thompson, winner of last week’s Rex Hospital Open, received congratulations from Hall of Fame golfer Gary Player on Player’s twitter account last week.
The Black Knight makes it a common practice to offer kudos to weekly winners on the various professional tours. Thompson, who shot a 4-under-par 67 in the Wichita Open’s first round, wasn’t aware of it until Thursday, but was touched by the gesture.
“He’s a nice guy,” Thompson said. “I played with him one time when I was in Doha, Qatar, back in 2002 or ’03. I had spoken with him another time, and he remembered those nine holes. He’s a really great guy.”
Rough start — Former Wichita State golfer Dustin Garza hoped a return to his college stomping grounds would provide a spark for his rookie season on the Nationwide Tour. It’ll take a big-time round today to make that happen.
Garza, who started on No. 10, climbed to 2 under through five holes. But the North course’s front nine bit him hard. He shot a 41 to finish with a 4-over 75.
Garza, who is 0 for 9 making the cut this season, is looking for his first round in the 60s.
Etc. — Australian Mark Hensby, who tied for second in his last Wichita Open appearance eight years ago, opened with a 4-under 67. . . . Michael Sims made the only eagle of the day on a par 4, carding a 2 at the 339-yard 11th. . . . The field will be cut to the low 60 and ties at the conclusion of the second round.