Notes Rain Takes Its Usually Place in Spotlight

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- In the first round of the Memorial Tournament, the players all complained because of the way the bunkers were raked.
 
In the second round, it didn't matter because the bunkers turned into ponds.

Heavy rains on Thursday night and throughout the day Friday created mini-rivers in several fairways and left that neatly raked sand under a couple of feet of water.
 
The deluge actually improved the bunkers.
 
'Yes, the rain definitely helped,' said Steve Flesch, tied for third at 6-under 138. 'It helped knock down those ridges.'
 
The players had loudly complained on Thursday because tournament founder Jack Nicklaus had the bunkers raked with gap-toothed rakes that created high, wide furrows that frequently resulted in difficult lies.
 
On a day when the course was playing extremely long, splashing into a trap was only a secondary concern. Splashing anywhere else was a huge concern.
 
Thirty players came back early on Friday to finish their first rounds after heavy rains late on Thursday. Shortly after they did complete the opening round, the field was consigned to sitting around, playing cards, sipping milkshakes and watching TV because of more rain. The wait lasted more than 6 hours before play resumed at 4:30 p.m.
 
By that point, the whole course was a water hazard.
 
'I'm glad to make the cut,' said Paul Azinger, at even-par 144 after a 1-under 71 in the second round. 'It was brutal out there -- brutal.'
 
Thirteen hours after the first shot of the day, the last player putted out. Seventy players were left on the course. They'll return early Saturday morning to complete their second round before the cut is made and third round gets going.
 
'It was a tough day,' Ernie Els said after a 70 that also left him at even-par through 36 holes. 'It was cold, windy, wet this morning. I'm just happy I'm done, I can get a good night's sleep and can come back tomorrow.'
 
RAIN GAUGE
Local lore has it that when Jack Nicklaus built Muirfield Village Golf Club in the early 1970s it was constructed on an Indian burial ground.
 
That may be apocryphal, but even Nicklaus himself has said that at times he feels as though his tournament has been cursed by awful weather.
 
Ten times in the last seven years a round was unable to be completed because of rain or lightning. Play has been suspended, delayed or a round has been canceled 49 times in the Memorial Tournament's 31 years.
 
'It's kind of the usual, isn't it?' Tim Herron said after Friday's rain difficulties.
 
Rain and the Memorial have come to be linked in the players' minds. Only three times in the last decade has a tournament followed the routine schedule of a round a day from Thursday through Sunday.
 
QUOTABLE
Zach Johnson, tied for third at 6-under 138, when reminded he'd be able to sleep late before teeing off in the third round on Saturday afternoon: 'I love to sleep, so I'm excited about that.'
 
NAGGING PAIN
David Duval, still struggling with occasional back pain, felt his muscles tighten during the 20-minute wait to tee off. He missed his first two fairways well to the left and was 6-over through six holes.
 
He recovered with birdies on the final two holes on the front side for a 4-over 40 before play was called because of darkness. Duval had opened with a 1-under 71.
 
DIVOTS
Thomas Levet withdrew with six holes left in his second round. He was 14-over through 30 holes. ... Bubba Watson has averaged 321 yards on his two measured drives at the Memorial. ... Pettersson and David Howell are each a perfect 4-for-4 in sand saves this week. ... The hardest hole at Muirfield Village has been the 444-yard, par-4 17th, which is playing to an average of 4.42 shots. ... Shigeki Maruyama was on pace to make the cut but withdrew late in his round due to an injured shoulder.
 
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