Memorial Day Long and Rainy

By Associated PressJune 2, 2006, 4:00 pm
DUBLIN, Ohio -- Carl Pettersson would have to consider this a good day. He made five birdies in the five hours he spent on the golf course, and had only one milkshake in the six hours he spent inside the locker room during a rainy Friday at the Memorial.
The best part of all was that he finished his round and was atop the leaderboard.
Rain has wreaked havoc over the first two days at Muirfield Village.
Pettersson make up ground quickly after a six-hour rain delay by playing bogey-free in his round of 5-under 67, making him the leader in the clubhouse by two shots with more than two-thirds of the field unable to finish the second round.
'It's nice to be finished,' Pettersson said.
The outcry over the furrowed bunkers were quickly forgotten when a steady rain that began at dawn saturated Muirfield Village and led to the long rain delay. Stuck in the clubhouse half the day, all anyone wanted to do was get back on the course.
'Twelve hours for 18 holes. That must be a world record,' Ernie Els said after a 70 brought him back to even par, eight shots out of the lead but extending his streak to 34 tournaments making the cut.
Pettersson returned to the course and struck a 7-iron to 10 feet on the sixth hole for birdie, and continued moving up the leaderboard until he was at 8-under 136.
Sean O'Hair birdied three of his first six holes and also was at 8 under when play was suspended. Steve Flesch (72) and Zach Johnson (68) each dropped a shot over the final two holes to finish at 6-under 138.
It was the 10th round in the last seven years at the Memorial that a round has not been completed because of weather.
The day felt so long that David Howell, who opened with a 69, was walking along a muddy path near the clubhouse just before 8 p.m. when someone asked him how he had fared.
'Actually,' the Englishman said, 'I've yet to play.'
At least he showed up.
New Orleans winner Chris Couch, who opened with a 76, started the second round with a bogey and a double bogey when play was suspended. He didn't bother returning, and neither did Steve Lowery, who was 9 over for the tournament.
John Daly opened with an 80. His tee time was adjusted to 6:30 p.m., and in a development that shocked no one, he was nowhere to be found when his group went off. It was the third straight tournament in which Daly was over par after the first round and withdrew.
Former U.S. Amateur champion Ryan Moore and Justin Rose won't be returning for another reason. A tour official said they were disqualified for walking off the course before the horn sounded -- Moore was at 3 under, and Rose at 2 under, both inside the cut line.
Those who returned from the six-hour delay found a different course. The furrows in the bunkers created by gap-tooth rakes were slightly packed, making it a little easier to play. But the soggy fairways made it so long that Jim Furyk hit 3-wood for his approach on the 470-yard opening hole; during practice rounds, he was hitting an 8-iron.
Pettersson had a simple explanation for his good play.
'The shots I didn't hit quite well still went straight,' he said. 'My mis-hits went well. I putted well.'
And this isn't a bad week for that to happen. The world ranking that came out Monday had Pettersson at No. 51 by one-hundredth of a point, meaning he will have to qualify for the U.S. Open the day after the Memorial. The top 50 are exempt.
'I wasn't too pleased,' he said. 'Maybe winning here, that might help.'
It would get him to Winged Foot, because the U.S. Open also exempts players who have won twice on the PGA Tour since the last U.S. Open, and the Swede earned his first tour victory late last year in Tampa Bay.
But there is plenty of work left, and Pettersson wasn't sure how the leaderboard would shake out by the time the second round finished late Saturday morning. The round was to resume at 8 a.m.
Tim Clark and Byron Nelson winner Brett Wetterich -- good friends with Gary Nicklaus -- were at 6 under and still on the course.
Masters champion Phil Mickelson made four pars and a bogey during his short time on Muirfield Village and was at 2 under for the tournament. Two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen was chipping away along the back nine with four birdies in a five-hole stretch, only to see it come undone with a double bogey-bogey finish that put him at 2-over 146.
'We're going home,' he said to his caddie as he walked out of the scoring room, and it wasn't clear what he meant. Perhaps he was thrilled to not have to return Saturday morning. Or maybe he figured that with Muirfield expected to be soft and sunny and pristine when the second round resumes, the projected cut will change.
Either way, it was an exhausting day for all.
'That was a long day, a tiring day. I'm just glad we finished,' Flesch said. 'We've been here since 7 this morning. We played three holes this morning, then sat around all that time. I just felt a little lethargic.'
Chris DiMarco, still recovering from a rib injury in March, shot 71 and was at 1-under 143. He moved briskly down the autograph line as he scribbled his name, and when one fan kept reaching over the fence, DiMarco said wearily, 'I've been out here 12 hours.'
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