AVONDALE, La. – There are worse places than New Orleans to spend an extra night, of course, but even this is getting a bit ridiculous.
After a pair of lengthy delays during the first three days of the Zurich Classic, third-round play was suspended after only a few hours Sunday when another storm system pounded TPC Louisiana.
The final group of Brian Stuard (13 under), Jhonattan Vegas (13 under) and Jamie Lovemark (11 under) completed only five holes before play was called.
The tournament will now be shortened to 54 holes – if the weather cooperates Monday. Play is scheduled to resume at 8 a.m. ET.
“We always say golf is a marathon, not a sprint,” Jason Day said. “This is kind of a sprint now.”
Day made back-to-back birdies on Nos. 7 and 8 before the horn sounded to move to 10 under, three shots behind Stuard and Vegas. Bobby Wyatt, playing on a sponsor exemption, is a shot behind the leaders after going out in 30, while Lovemark is two shots back.
Watch the conclusion of the Zurich Classic Monday at 8 a.m. ET on Golf Channel and Golf Live Extra
In all, 11 players are within four shots of the lead.
The big question now is whether they’ll be able to finish.
The best-case scenario is for all 82 players to complete 54 holes by the end of the day Monday, but the forecast calls for thunderstorms all day.
If more than half the field finishes 54 holes (or 41 players), then they must complete the third round, even if the tournament is pushed into Tuesday (or later).
No player has completed 54 holes so far – the first group is on the 15th hole – and if the weather doesn’t allow for more play Monday, tournament officials will revert to the 36-hole results, at which point Stuard, who was at 12-under 132, would be declared the winner. The victory would be unofficial, but he still would receive full FedEx Cup points and earnings.
Winless on the PGA Tour in 119 starts, Stuard has sat through more than a dozen hours of delays and slept on the lead three nights this week.
“I guess it’s a little difficult,” he said, “but it is what it is. Can’t control the rain and whenever they tell us we’re going to go play, we’re going to go play. We have been through this before. It’s just another tournament.”
The Zurich is just the fourth event in the past decade to be shortened to 54 holes, and the first since 2013. It’ll also be the first 54-hole tournament not won by Dustin Johnson over that span.
“It changes a lot,” Jhonattan Vegas said of the 54-hole finish. “You have less holes to play, and being near the lead you have to make sure that you stay aggressive and start making some birdies, because anything could happen.”
TPC Louisiana has received about five inches of rain since Wednesday, and more precipitation was expected.