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High Winds Halt Play At Humana Challenge

Gusty winds suspend play for the day Saturday, and two were injured when a scoreboard collapsed. "This is Bob Hope's way of saying 'My tournament is supposed to be five days,'" a fan said.

High winds that picked up dust and debris prompted officials to stop play for the day during the third round of the Humana Challenge Saturday, and at least two people suffered minor cuts.

Sustained winds of 40 mph and gusts up to 65 mph were expected Saturday afternoon in the Coachella Valley, according to the National Weather Service.

Thousands of fans were sent home from the La Quinta Country Club and two courses at PGA West about half-way through third-round play at the tournament -- formerly known as the Bob Hope Classic -- because of the wind.

PGA VP of Rules and Competitions Slugger White said there was significant wind damage at the La Quinta Country Club, with "trees and branches down all over the place. It's a dangerous situation there."

The high winds also overturned two large scoreboards at PGA West, one on the 18th hole at the Palmer Private course, causing minor cuts to two fans. No other injuries were reported.

The Bob Hope Square fan area and the Media center were both evacuated about 1:35 p.m., for safety concerns. At least one tent blew over at the square.

Many in the crowd had come out to see President Bill Clinton play in a group with PGA pros Greg Norman and Scott McCarron, along with Humana President/CEO Mike McCallister.

The foursome with the President had just started the tenth hole when play was stopped.

President Clinton shook hands with members of the crowd between holes, and one youngster was able to get the former commander in chief's signature on his ticket.

"It was awesome," said 11-year-old Abel Chavira. "I've never met a President before, so this is cool."

Most fans were happy to be heading away from the winds, while one fan told the Golf Channel that he was waiting for play to be officially halted.

"This is Bob Hope's way of saying 'My tournament is supposed to be five days,'" referring to the newly introduced four-day format.

Play will resume for professionals at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday to complete the third round. The fourth and final round will begin about 11:30 a.m.

A wind advisory was in effect until 10 p.m. Saturday, forecasters said. Isolated gusts up to 90 mph were reported in parts of the Coachella Valley, and trees were reported down in downtown Palm Springs.

Elsewhere in the valley, there were no reports of damage, according to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department. There were 16 Southern California Edison customers without power, according to the power company. The small outage was reported at 1:40 p.m.

Kerry Roach of Palm Desert sent Patch a photo showing a fallen tree at Ironwood Park (check it out in the photo gallery above and on Patch's Facebook page).

However, the earlier today because of gusts up to 90 mph, according to Lena Zimmerschied, a tramway spokeswoman.

Check back for more on this developing story.

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