Severe weather washes out third round at the PGA

Severe weather washes out third round at the PGA

Spectators huddled under shelter as thunderstorms pounded Oakland Hills.
Michael Conroy/AP

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. — The 90th PGA Championship didn’t come to a screeching halt Saturday. It was more like a thundering, booming, drenching halt. But it did come to a halt when afternoon storms suddenly sprung up and stopped play at 2:16 with the last three twosomes still waiting to tee off in the third round.

Officials waited out a series of recurring storm cells in hopes of resuming play but finally gave up at 6:30 p.m., when it was announced that the third round was postponed until Sunday morning. Players on the course were to resume play at 7:15 a.m., with the final pairing of J.B. Holmes and Charlie Wi set to tee off at 7:40. Fourth-round play will begin at 12:20 p.m. with threesomes going off the first and 10th tees. The leaders will begin the final round at 2:20 p.m.

This delay could turn out to be a break for the leaders. Oakland Hills was already giving up some better scores Saturday after officials ordered the greens watered Friday night and again Saturday morning. Early finisher Andres Romero shot a five-under-par 65 to tie the competitive record on the Oakland Hills South Course, a mark shared by eight others, including Jack Nicklaus, Andy North and Tom Lehman. Camilo Villegas was four under par through 14 holes when the horn sounded and play was stopped. Romero and Villegas are both two over par for the tournament.

“The greens were a bit softer,” said Romero, an Argentine who won this year’s tour stop in New Orleans.

The relatively brief but drenching rains are sure to make the greens even more receptive Sunday and possibly lead to a batch of birdies, something that has been missing in the first two rounds. It could give a player near the lead a chance to break away with a low score.

“The greens will be significantly more receptive tomorrow, no question,” said Kerry Haigh, the PGA of America’s director of competition.

Sunday’s forecast, Haigh said, includes a chance of isolated showers but not a major weather front like Saturday. As for the likelihood of finishing on schedule Sunday night and not Monday? “We’re optimistic,” Haigh said. He added that officials did not consider moving third-round tee times earlier even though afternoon storms had been predicted.

Here’s how the board looks after Saturday: Holmes, one under; Wi, Ben Curtis and Justin Rose, even; Steve Flesch (through five holes), David Toms and Henrik Stenson, one over.