Mother Nature tees off on Canadian Open

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:39 AM ET

OAKVILLE -- Tournament director Steve Carman was dragged into the media tent yesterday afternoon to explain why play was suspended for the day at the RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey.

He needn't had bothered.

Carman hardly could be heard over the heavy rain pounding on top of the canvas and just as he began to outline plans for the continuation of play this morning, the tent shook as a lightning bolt crackled nearby.

Everyone let out a nervous chuckle, but certainly neither the Royal Canadian Golf Association nor PGA officials were laughing.

Inclement weather has plagued the snake-bitten Open all week and despite waiting out the rain most of yesterday afternoon -- after the golfers had started the third round in the morning -- officials had no choice but to suspend play until 7:30 this morning, with the hopes that the fourth and final round can begin at 9:05 a.m. and a winner can be declared after 72 holes.

Carman said if it rains again today, and the forecast calls for a 20-to-30% chance of that, there is a possibly of declaring a champion after 54 holes. Carman said regulations prohibit the event from going beyond Monday “except for the situation where we would have more than half the field finished of the final round.”

In any event, they need a huge break from Mother Nature.

“It’s pretty close to being unplayable,” Calgary pro Stephen Ames said of the Oakville course. “A lot of the fairways are under water.”

As it stands now, American Jason Dufner holds a one-stroke lead over countrymen Anthony Kim and Jerry Kelly, who spoke for most of the players when he expressed hope that, somehow, they can finish the third round today, and the fourth.

“If I’m going to win, I want to win four rounds,” said Kelly, a former Madison, Wisc., high school hockey star. “I want to be tested all the way through.”

Dufner sits at 14 under after six holes yesterday with Kim and Kelly at 13 under. Kim is charging up the field, shooting a minus-4 through nine yesterday, including five birdies, though he picked up a bogey on nine.

Canadian Mike Weir shot three under through 11 holes yesterday and sits at minus-9, five strokes back of the leader. The Sarnia native aced the par-3 fourth yesterday, becoming the seventh player at this year’s Open to score a hole-in-one, a PGA record. But, unexpectedly, he was also penalized a stroke for an incident that occurred the 18th on Saturday at the end of the second round. After Weir had placed his ball on the middle of the fairway following his tee shot (because of the conditions, the event is played under lift, clean and place rules), the ball moved just as he was preparing for his second shot.

After calling over an official and later conferring with officials in the clubhouse, it was ruled that he did nothing wrong and was not penalized a stroke.

However, after additional video from the incident was viewed yesterday by Weir and the rules committee, Weir felt that he should be assessed a one-stroke penalty for causing his ball to move, even though it still was inconclusive whether he had addressed the ball.

Officials then penalized Weir and that dropped him to nine under.

“It has been a crazy week,” said Weir of his ace, the weather and his penalty stroke. “I mean this is bizarre.”

Ames is eight strokes behind Dufner after going one over through 10 holes.

Dufner said the weather is a pain, but the wet, soft conditions are perfect for low scores.

“You don’t get any rollout, so you don’t worry about going through fairways or going through doglegs,” the Cleveland native said. “Pretty much anything inside 180 yards you can try and attack and give yourself good chances for birdies.”


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