GOLF SENIORS AT OJAI : Rain Cuts Tournament to 2 Rounds
The sun came out at the Ojai Valley Inn & Country Club Friday just as officials were announcing postponement of the first round of the GTE West senior golf tournament.
The damage done to the course in the hills above Ventura by more than four inches of rain since Wednesday cut the scheduled 54-hole event to 36 holes, weather permitting.
The rains returned after a couple of hours of sunshine, but tournament director Skip Whittet said that even if they are only able to play 18 holes Sunday, GTE, the sponsor, has decided to pay the full purse of $450,000, the winner earning $67,500. Senior PGA Tour rules prohibit extending the tournament to Monday.
With the rain stopping, if it had been a regular PGA tournament, they might have tried to play the first round. But, senior rules allow the use of golf carts. Some of the players could not play otherwise. It was decided that the wet course was too dangerous for carts.
A senior tournament never has been rained out completely, although Hurricane Hugo wiped out the golf course and the tournament at Quail Hollow in North Carolina in 1989.
Walter Zembriski, who won the previous Ojai tournament in November, 1989, pointed out that if the event were washed out, he would be the defending champion for another year.
“Seriously, though, I would hate to see us not play,” he said. “I love this golf course. It’s the kind I grew up on in New Jersey.
“The fairways are narrow, the tees are elevated and the greens are rolling. It places a premium on accuracy. I love these old courses.
“I played here Monday and Tuesday and the course was in magnificent shape. The greens are still in good shape. We just need to get the fairways dried out.”