PGA fans patient with Mother Nature, not so much with traffic

By Dean

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. (WCIV) -- The PGA crowd at the Ocean Course was bigger Friday than any other day so far. Yes, that was expected, but I don't think people making the drive expected the extra drive time.But that's exactly what they got.The line of cars backed up further Friday than any other day this week. The bigger problem people are tiring of is getting off the island. The acres of land used as a parking lot was jammed pack Thursday night. Word is, it took more than an hour to get on the road.Tournament director Brett Sterba says the best way to avoid the jam is to avoid the peak hours."What we would encourage fans and people coming out here to do is plan ahead if you want to get here for the first tee times. Get in the car a little early," said Sterba. "We continue to change on the fly and we want to make sure that everyone gets in and out of here as efficiently as possible."

Other problems also contributed to the traffic issue.

"Several incidents occurred this morning causing delays, including a downed tree on River Road and a two-car accident with injuries on Maybank Highway," said Scott Hawkins with the PGA Unified Command. "Officers cleared the roadway within seven minutes and closed out the incident entirely within 30 minutes."Also picking up on Friday,{} foot traffic and the wind. It was blowing close to 20 miles an hour. A skirt alert was even issued. One fan says he lost his hat several times.

But it wasn't just the wind making a mess of things. A morning shower created a water hazard along the walking paths."Weather is just part of the game," said{} Dick Sapp. "It's typical Charleston weather. It's gonna change.

One other effect of the wind was a drop in heat-related illnesses. According to the PGA's Unified Command, they treated 139 people on Friday, down from 180 on Thursday. Most Thursday's patients' issues were heat-related while Friday's patients had issues varying from abrasions and lacerations to abdominal pains, dizziness and chest pain.In the end, the crowd appears to be dealing with the changing weather pattern better than the traffic jam leading on and off the island.

"Visitors to the PGA Championship are asked to continue demonstrating the high level of patience and consideration which they've demonstrated so far making this event a success," said Hawkins. "The next two days are SOLD OUT and PGA officials are not expecting crowds to increase anymore."

*Sandra Ecklund contributed to this report