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Stadler, Langer, Waldorf share Encompass lead

Bernhard Langer
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GLENVIEW, Ill. – Bernhard Langer was unfazed when the weather delay horn blew on Friday at North Shore Country Club.

He's heard it too often this year. Friday's thunderstorm delay of more than three hours during the opening round of the Encompass Championship made it the fifth Champions Tour event of 12 this season beset by weather woes.

It didn't bother the two-time Masters champion at all. He shot 5-under-par 67 for a share of the lead with Duffy Waldorf and Craig Stadler, with 23 players left to complete their round on Saturday morning.

''For most of the guys it's not a huge deal,'' Langer said after playing the final two holes of his round following the delay. ''It'll be harder to play until 8:30 tonight and have to get up at 4:30 to resume the round.''

Stadler was approaching the first tee when the delay began. Langer and Waldorf came off the course, had lunch and killed time in the locker room until the storm passed and they were given the all clear to warm up. Just as Stadler's five birdies in a bogey-free round were made in the calm of the early evening, their birdies were all scored in the light breeze of the morning.

Langer posted six birdies and a bogey, while Waldorf was bogey free and standing at 6 under par when the horns blew. His bogey came by three-putting his final hole, the par-4 ninth, after the delay.

''Hopefully I'm the golfer that was the 17-hole golfer, not the one-hole golfer,'' Waldorf said. ''It was a long wait. When you're playing well, you definitely want to keep playing. It would have been a big difference.''

Waldorf hit 15 greens and one-putted eight holes, including all six birdie holes.

Stadler's five birdies came in his first 11 holes. He considered the fourth, set up by a 7-iron approach from a divot in the middle of the fairway, the best. The shot stopped a foot from the cup.

Stadler's 67 was his best first-round score since a 67 at the AT&T Championship late in the 2008 season. On Friday, he benefited from soft greens that accepted shots from all angles, and hit 16 greens in regulation, even though he landed in only nine of 14 fairways.

''It was hard getting your short irons close, because the ball kept spinning back,'' Stadler said as darkness closed in.

Seven players, including Chicago-area native Gary Hallberg and area resident Jeff Sluman, are a stroke back at 4-under 68, while Peter Senior and Mark Calcavecchia are at 4 under on their back nine.

Major championship winners Corey Pavin, Bob Tway and Hal Sutton lead a pack of eight players at 3-under 69.

Both Waldorf and Langer finished their rounds after the 3-hour, 28-minute delay, with Waldorf bogeying his last hole to drop from 6 under. Langer parred his final two holes after the thunderstorms passed. Hallberg holed out from the fairway for an eagle 2 at the 18th to reach 4 under.

Sandy Lyle and Blaine McCallister were in the clubhouse at 68 before the storm hit and dropped eight-tenths of an inch of rain on the course. Lyle birdied three of his first seven holes, and then played his final 11 in 1 under to settle at 68. McCallister was 5 under through 17 holes, but stumbled by missing the green in regulation and failed to convert a 20-foot par-saving putt.

Among the others at 68, David Frost opened with a double-bogey 6, but played his back nine in 4-under-par 32. Jeff Hart birdied three of his last six holes to climb to 4 under, while Sluman played the back nine in 3-under 33. Hoch's round was birdie-free.

Waldorf hit 15 greens and one-putted eight holes, including all six birdie holes.

McCallister played bogey-free golf until his last hole, the par-4 ninth, which he was hurrying to finish before play was halted.

''There's a lot running through your mind,'' McCallister said. ''You're trying to beat the weather. You know it's coming, but I stayed patient today.''

McCallister nearly holed out for eagle on the par-4 second hole, his 11th of the day, sinking a 1-footer for birdie, and added a birdie on the par-5 third to get to 5 under. He stayed there until the bogey at the ninth. It was still his best opening round since June of 2010.

Lyle hit nine of 14 fairways and 13 greens en route to his 68, taking only 28 putts. The round would have been better had Lyle not bogeyed three of the four par-3 holes.

There were 48 players under par and another 11 of the 80-man field at par when play was suspended for the day.

The storm also left a large gallery to scatter. Many were following Sluman and former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, participating in the celebrity pro-am team portion of the competition.

A pair of teams were tied at 13-under 59 for the first-round lead.