AP News

Players brace for long weekend at U.S. Open

SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. (AP) — Janice Moodie didn't need a caddie Saturday morning to complete her second round at the U.S. Women's Open.

The Scot was less than 3 inches from closing her round a day earlier when lightning threatened and the horn abruptly sounded to stop play.

So after daybreak she returned to the 18th green with only her putter, tapped in a gimme putt to finish her 76 — then turned around and went back home.

"I think I might have squeezed it (Friday) if we had just gone ahead," Moodie said. "It's just one of those things, isn't it? The horn's got to be blowing sometime. It just happens to be when I'm doing my first putt."

Now comes the next challenge: killing roughly 10 hours before round three is expected to begin — if it even starts at all.

It's been that kind of week so far at Pine Needles, where the Open began its third day with most players still stuck in the second round and Mother Nature dominating the field.

Threats of thunder and lightning loomed large during the first two days, leaving some players to spend more time with pool cues and pingpong paddles in the clubhouse rather than putters on the practice green.

With contingency plans being discussed to extend the tournament into Monday, the star-crossed event that can't seem to get itself started has players and officials wondering if an end will ever be in sight.

"It's going to be a marathon weekend," Morgan Pressel said.

Play resumed as scheduled Saturday when this cozy nook in the south-central North Carolina sandhills dodged the latest batch of expected strong storms. But, in keeping with the theme of this year's Open, more severe weather was predicted for the afternoon.

"This area has gone for weeks on end without any kind of weather," said Mike Davis, the USGA's senior director of rules and competition. "And bring the USGA to town, and it's amazing how we can change weather patterns."

With little golf being played — three delays in two days have cost about six hours of play — there haven't been many reasons to change the leaderboard.

In-Bee Park — one of just 25 of 156 players to finish the second round — shot a 73 Friday after bogeying two of her final four holes, and was at even-par 142, one shot ahead of Kris Tamulis, who shot 71.

"We're halfway there, and there is a lot of golf out there to play and the holes are playing tougher and tougher," Park said. "I'll just stay patient out there and keep making a lot of pars, and I think that will do it."

Angela Park, the leader after the first round, didn't even make it to the tee for the second round — play was postponed before her tee time — and remained at 3 under.

"It's not frustrating at all. I'm just having a good time relaxing at the locker room," she said. "I'm very calm and eager to play the next three rounds."

Michelle Wie faced similar circumstances after not having taken a shot a day after her first-round 82.

She was one of several players who have run into trouble on the tilted greens and springy fairways of the freshly extended Donald Ross-designed course at Pine Needles — chief among them the two players to win previous Women's Open titles here.

One day after 2001 champion Karrie Webb opened with an 83 for the worst score of her career, 1996 winner Annika Sorenstam started out playing just as poorly.

She finished off a 1-under 70 in the morning, then after a quick turnaround, began her second round with a double bogey when a chip up the slope on the 10th hole came back to her feet. She blew another chip some 18 feet by the hole, found the bunker with a sand wedge on the par-5 15th and went out in 42 to fall off the leaderboard.

Sorenstam was 7 over through 10 holes until she steadied herself, and a birdie on No. 8 brought her to 5 over for the tournament.

Still, the most activity so far might've been the dozen Japanese photographers scrambling in the parking lot to get pictures of Ai Miyazato, the biggest golf sensation in Japan.

Besides that, the only real flurries of action have come as players hustled to beat the air horn that demanded play stop because of the threat of severe weather. While thunder has been a staple of this year's Open, the delays have produced only trace amounts of rain, leaving the course dry and fast.

"It's sometimes good, and sometimes bad," In-Bee Park said. "Because some people need some rest after playing 18, 20 holes. And I don't know, if they get enough good warm-ups out there, and then I think it should be good. And I hear a lot of thunder, but it's not raining, so it's not going to get wet or anything. So I think the course is going to be in good shape."

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