By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
SAN MARTIN, Calif. — PGA TOUR rules officials are always the first to know. They know when the weather systems are moving in and when a change is coming. They’re like human barometers. The officials were wearing rain pants, heavy jackets and gloves at 10 a.m. All the protection was needed as cool temperatures and cloudy skies gave way wind and rain. The cool conditions dramatically affected distance. Nicolas Colsaerts averages 310 yards per drive; on the 15th hole he cranked up the driver and walloped it 270 yards. The course played much longer than the 7,368 yards it was listed at.
First bounce: Players were surprised at the first bounce their approach shots took when hitting greens. They could get the ball to check but not until after a big 5-yard hop following impact. Players took 10 yards off their carry distances into greens to compensate for that first kangaroo hop, which made front hole locations difficult.
Bubble boy: Jeff Maggert is this week’s bubble boy. He’s ranked 125th on the money list and responded to the pressure with an opening-round 67. The veteran seemed very casual about his status, though, saying he will return to q-school if necessary. Maggert turns 49 in February and is looking forward to the Champions Tour but would like one more season with the younger generation.
Backed up: Rory Sabbatini had to withdraw from last week’s tournament with back problems after playing just eight holes in the final round. He limped in pain for two hours before the WD and was doubtful for this week. The pain was alleviated with a treatment and Rory was walking tall for 17 holes Thursday — until a double bogey on the 18th gave him discomfort in a different area of the anatomy.
Foreign influence: Whenever it rains and gets cold, there’s a popular theory t hat foreigners have an advantage. The Europeans and Aussies play in much more varied conditions than we see on the PGA TOUR. How did that theory hold up on a cold, rainy afternoon? The top three players are not Americans.