PGA and World Golf Championship officials were doing a fair amount of talking today with their forecasting team with an eye toward Sunday, and it wasn't about who's atop the leader board.
With thunderstorms more likely Sunday afternoon, Bridgestone Invitational officials always have a contingency plan in their back pocket. In years past, the threat of severe weather pushed earlier start times to seven in the morning, with the field going off from both the first and tenth tees in threesomes rather than the usual pairing of doubles.
The weather, however, is not a sure thing and with thousands of spectators, not to mention the nearly thousand volunteers, golf officials, sponsors from around the world and the golfers themselves making the decision on very early tee times isn't taken lightly. That decision could have been made today, but now Tournament Executive Director Don Padgett III put it off until a more solid forecast could be drawn.
There's a 50% chance of rain after 9:00 Saturday night, and a 60% chance of thunderstorms packing up to a quarter and a half inch of rain forecast for Sunday afternoon, too. But that forecast covers the Akron region, and the PGA's weather experts are concerned with one location only: the pristine 18 holes just south of Warner Road.
Saturday's pairings have leader Jim Furyk, at -11 and leading both of the rounds so far, going off at 2:00 with Spain's Rafael Cabrera Bello, who is right in the hunt at -9. Among the other notable golfers in the chase, Louis Oosthuizen and Jason Dufner tee off at 1:50, K.T. Kim and David Toms pair up at 1:40, Lee Slattery and Luke Donald are scheduled for 1:30 and John Senden and Steve Striker hit at 1:20.
A link to the .pdf file with complete Round 3 2012 is on this page
Many of the traditional fan favorites have far earlier tee times; seven-time winner Tiger Woods is two over after the first opening rounds. He tees off at 10:20, partnered with Branden Grace of South Africa. British Open champ Ernie Els, who is 17 strokes behind leader Furyk, is at 8:40; Rickie Fowler, at 21 strokes behind the leader, tees off at 8:00. Last year's defending champion, Adam Scott, a dozen strokes off the pace, tees off at 10:40. Masters champ Bubba Watson has a 12:10 tee time paired with Retief Goosen; both are ten strikes back.