Strange Finish in Store in Texas


AUSTIN, Texas -- If you think you had seen everything in the world of golf, you may want to think again. Just ask Rob Johnson of Terre Haute, Ind., who will be in the peculiar position of watching Sundays final round on television to see if his lead is big enough to win the Canadian Tour Challenge.
The sixth-year Canadian Tour veteran posted a 3-under 69 Saturday for a 36-hole total of 10-under 134, two shots better than Michael Harris of Troy, Mich., and Mark Johnson of Helendale, Calif. Mark Johnson went into the second round at even- par before carding an 8-under 64, just one shot shy of the Barton Creek Resort Fazio Foothills course-record.
Derek Gillespie (Oshawa, ON) and Philip Jonas (Vancouver, BC) are the leading Canadians in the clubhouse at 4-under.
Tour officials announced Saturday that the tournament had been reduced to a 36-hole event, the first time in Tour history that a scheduled 72-hole event had been shortened to two rounds. The 1986 Labatt Blue Light Pro-Am, held in Stouffville, ON, was weather-shortened to 36 holes but was a scheduled 54-hole tournament. So, with Harris and Mark Johnson finished for the week, Rob Johnson has a four-shot edge with eighteen holes to go. Kevin Stadler opened with a 6-under 66 Friday and will be in the first group out of the chute Sunday morning at 7:30 A.M. CST. Brett Bingham of Red Deer, AB is at 4-under heading into Sunday.
Johnson has posted the number to beat. All he can do now is sit and wait.
Play was completely washed out Thursday when more than four inches of rain fell at Barton Creek Resort, and opening-round action was delayed another three hours Friday morning.
Play was halted because of darkness at 6:45 CST time Saturday. In addition to those who have had to tee it up in Round 2, three players will be back in position to finish their second rounds Sunday morning.
Johnson played 29 holes of golf Saturday, finishing off a 7-under 65 before turning around and pegging it up for Rd. 2. His touch on the green has been golden this week, with Johnson needing just 28 putts in each of the first two rounds. Defending Order of Merit champion Hank Kuehne began the second round five shots back of Johnson, but put the heat on the leader by going 5-under through his first ten holes. A double-bogey by Johnson on the par-4 13th allowed Kuehne to climb to within one, but Johnson rebounded with a birdie-two on the next hole and didnt look back.
That was key for me to come back with a birdie after taking the double, said Johnson, who has a pair of fourth-place finishes in his Tour career. I wasnt really paying attention to how Hank was doing, but I saw on the leaderboard he was getting close. And then Michael started making his move. I just wanted to make sure I got out of there without making any more bogeys.
On Sunday, Johnson will be in the unique position of having the opportunity to win a golf tournament without having to pull a club out of his bag.
I am just going to have to check out the Weather Channel and hope for 40-mile an hour winds, he joked. This is low-stress, believe me. There would be a lot more pressure having to sleep on the lead and wake up to play in the final pairing. I think its great - how often do you get to do this? It has been a bizarre week.
Harris, coming off a second-place showing at last weeks Canadian Tour Classic, has three runner-up showings in the past year. Should the fabled Texas winds pick up Sunday, he may very well have his fourth.
Im just trying to get some respect out here, trying to get my name of the website, laughed the three-time All-Big Ten Team selection while at the University of Michigan. But I am playing great golf right now, and my time is going to come. I just need to find a way to get a couple more of those 12-footers to drop.
Gillespie had a rollercoaster 5-under 67 in his second round, featuring eleven birdies, one bogey as well as a double and triple bogey.
I dont think Ive ever had a round like that, he said, shaking his head. It was a very long day, but it seemed like I was all over the pin every shot, at least on the holes I birdied. Its too bad the weather didnt co-operate. This is a fantastic place to play and we could have had a lot of fun here this weekend. Its disappointing that way.
If Gillespie was left scratching his head in disbelief about his day, he need only look at the scorecard of playing partner Anders Hultman, who won the season-opener last week. The 23-year-old recorded seven birdies, an eagle and seven bogeys, including a stretch of five in a row, on his way to a 2-under 70.
And to think, Sunday is another day.