Oh, Henri! As storm approaches, Tour pros plan for off-day indoors

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JERSEY CITY, N.J. – A storm named Henri has forced the first unscheduled Monday finish on the PGA Tour since 2019 at Pebble Beach and the first mid-tournament “break” since the 2019 Zozo Championship, when it was a storm named Bualoi that kept players huddled in their hotel rooms for an entire day.

Weather delays are part and parcel of Tour life, but completely canceled rounds that leave the rank and file to their own devices are rare. Officials had no choice, with Tropical Storm Henri bearing down on Long Island and an uncertain path leaving the first playoff stop facing gusts to 45 mph and 2-4 inches of rain.

“For public safety, for everyone's safety, we felt it was the right thing to do,” said John Mutch, a senior tournament director for the PGA Tour.

Which leaves a Monday finish and a lot of time to kill on a rainy Sunday.

“I said it as a joke, I guess I could meet [caddie Adam Hayes] at Chelsea Piers where they have TopGolf and we can go and try [to practice],” laughed Jon Rahm, who looked bound for another commanding lead before a rare moment of vulnerability at the par-5 13th hole added up to seven strokes and left him tied for the 54-hole lead with Cameron Smith.

Henri forces Tour to push Northern Trust finish to Monday

In truth, Rahm’s plan doesn’t include anything as eventful as braving the wind and the rain to remain game ready for when – or if – the final round is played on Monday. The Spaniard will go with the mundane: Family time with his wife and son, and maybe a gym session to keep himself loose. All things considered, it wasn’t a bad plan.

“If COVID quarantine has taught us anything, it's what to do the whole day cooped up in a room,” Rahm figured.

His co-leader Smith was planning for a similar uneventful Sunday to stave off the surreal boredom of an odd off-day.

“I don't know what I'm going to do tomorrow. I've never been in this situation,” said Smith, who narrowly missed a birdie putt on the 18th hole that would have made him the 12th player in Tour history to shoot 59. “I’ll probably just get a little bit of a rest. A round like this usually takes it out of you a little bit, the adrenaline, the highs and the lows. Sleep in. Maybe a little bit of gym and come out Monday firing.”

At the 2019 Zozo Championship, it was Typhon Bualoi that forced play to be scrapped on Friday and sent some players, including Tiger Woods, on ill-advised adventures into town. The eventual champion, Justin Thomas, and Jordan Spieth ventured into Narita, Japan, to catch a movie (“Joker”) and were forced to wait out the storm in a Domino's Pizza.

Thomas didn’t plan to be as daring this time around.

“Probably a lot of putting in my room and a lot of eating and a lot of TV watching,” said Thomas, who is tied for fourth and two shots off the lead. “I had it at a junior tournament believe it or not that I remember I didn't touch a club and thought I was fine and then I shot like 80 the next day. I'm really hoping that that doesn't happen again.”

Tropical storm Henri postpones Northern Trust

Keith Mitchell was also in Japan in 2019, although he said he’s tried to block that tournament from his memory. Given his precarious position on the points list – he’s currently projected 69th with the top 70 advancing to next week’s BMW Championship – a day of distractions could be helpful.

“I have no idea. I just hope things are open,” Mitchell said. “If it’s a hurricane most places shut down, I’m from the south I know that, but I guess we’ll have a hurricane party.”

Given the uncertainty of Henri, there was also some concern about how the course and surrounding area might fare.

“It’s really weird. We were joking that we hope the internet doesn’t go down tomorrow, we won’t be able to watch any movies,” said Kevin Na, whose Sunday will include binge-watching South Korean dramas.

Full-field scores from The Northern Trust

But the most productive plan came from Tony Finau, who was tied for fourth place after a third-round 68. Like everyone else, he was planning for an indoor day of Netflix, eating and reading. But he also was going to bring some clubs back to his room, including his putter.

“I need to have a talk with it. It needs to wake up,” he smiled. “I've got a nice smooth piece of carpet that I can roll on. It's more common than you guys would think, guys putting in their room. I've done it many times.”

There was also the option for a little hallway game with a wedge.

“I think at the Greenbrier, maybe 2018, Greenbrier. I was in there chipping in the hallway with a couple guys,” Finau said. “It's a lot harder to chip off carpet because you have to utilize the bounce.”

But the one thing every player will be doing Sunday is hoping that Monday brings better weather and a chance to complete 72 holes.