Thunderstruck

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:15 AM ET

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- It will be a crowded, time-constrained fight to the finish in golf's fourth and final major of the season.

It's also going to be a struggle to get the 90th PGA Championship completed in four days after thunderstorms, heavy rain and even a sprinkling of hail washed out a large portion of the third round, which was suspended at 2:16 p.m. -- and finally cancelled more than four hours later -- yesterday at the Oakland Hills Country Club.

The final three pairings, including leader J.B. Holmes at one-under par, didn't get the chance to start their rounds and are in for at least a 36-hole marathon today -- weather permitting.

Phil Mickelson, who has the lowest PGA Championship scoring average of any player with 50 rounds or more, completed five holes and remains at three-over -- well within striking range on a course that figures to yield more birdie opportunities now that the greens are wet and soft.

"It will be tight (on the timeline) -- everything is a little condensed," said Kerry Haigh, the PGA's managing director of tournaments. "We tried to get play resumed. We had a couple of breaks where it looked like we had a possibility, but both times cells built up behind to the west.

"The forecast (today) is generally much better -- but you know the weather. Pace of play will be important. We'll need to start on time. We should still have time even if there's a need for a playoff."

To make up for the backlog, the PGA will resume play this morning at 7:15 a.m.

The final pairing of Holmes and South Korean Charlie Wi, will begin at 7:40 a.m.

"I just hung out in the locker room with Steve Elkington and talked to Aaron Baddeley," Wi said. "It was relaxed. All the nerves are gone. We have another day."

To wade through the final round before darkness falls, the tournament will revert to the same format it used for the first two days when it was a 156-player field -- groups of three starting on both the front and back nine. It is slated to begin at 12:20 p.m.

With so many players still in contention and separated by only a few strokes, a playoff remains a possible scenario.

Since 2000, the PGA format has been a three-hole playoff followed by single-hole sudden death.

"The conditions are going to dictate how the players play," Haigh said. "Certainly, if they are able to fire at the greens or flags, it will create more birdie possibilities and obviously more excitement."

While the top groups were on ice, a couple of red-hot South Americans jumped back into contention by taming the course nicknamed The Monster by Ben Hogan after he won the 1951 U.S. Open title here.

Argentina's Andres Romero, who finished third at last year's British Open, fired a five-under 65 to tie the course record.

'I PLAYED GREAT'

"I played great golf -- fairways and greens, fairways and greens the whole round -- and that was the most important thing," Romero said through an interpreter.

Colombian Camilo Villegas, who started the day six over, was on pace for 65 or better when the rain derailed his smoking third round. He birdied five of his first 12 holes but gave back a stroke at No. 14 before retreating to the clubhouse to wait out the weather.

Canadian Mike Weir had his best round of the tournament -- completing a one-over 73 to stand at nine over for the tournament.


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