Irwin shoots second straight 69

Updated: May 30, 2004, 6:34 PM ET
Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Hale Irwin held a one-shot lead over Dave Barr and Jay Haas when the final round was suspended Sunday at the rain-plagued Senior PGA Championship at Valhalla.

A powerful front that spawned tornados in Indiana moved through the area Sunday afternoon, triggering the fourth delay in four days.

Play was suspended late Sunday afternoon. The players were due to resume their final rounds early Monday.

Kerry Haigh, the PGA's managing director of tournaments, said organizers were determined to complete 72 holes this year. The 2000 Senior PGA Championship, played in Florida, was shortened to 54 holes after seven weather delays.

"We have said all along, we would play through Monday," Haigh said.

Irwin completed just one hole in his final round and was at 7 under. The leader after the first three rounds had nine holes left on his suspended third round Sunday morning, and he finished it up with his second straight 69.

He bogeyed No. 1 just before play was halted.

Barr, who moved into contention with a third-round 69, finished his day with a birdie at No. 2.

Haas, a PGA Tour regular making his seniors debut, matched Barr's third round by nearly acing the par-3 11th with a 7-iron and sinking a 12-foot, downhill putt on 17. He parred the first two holes of his final round before the suspension.

John Harris and Tom Watson were two shots behind Irwin at 5 under.

Harris capped his third round by lipping the cup with his approach to the par-5 18th. He tapped in for an eagle and an even-par 71.

Watson finished with a third-round 70 on Sunday. The PGA told the players they would not be allowed to take breaks between their third and fourth rounds.

"I'd like some time to work on my putting stroke," Watson said on his way to the first tee. "I had a lot of opportunities for birdies. It was one of those rounds of what could have been."

Watson birdied the second hole to tie Barr and Haas.

The long week was wearing on the players.

"It's a grind," Irwin said. "You're sort of lead-footed on every hole. It's a little difficult because you don't know when the horn's going to blow and you know it's getting dark."

Irwin joked Saturday night that he was worried about things other than golf as the unpredictable weather lingered.

"Am I checked out, am I not checked out (of the hotel)?" Irwin said. "Is there room service? Will it be too late? When do I have to get up?"

Course superintendent Mark Wilson said Friday the course had already absorbed more than five inches of rain. Another eight-tenths of an inch fell Sunday morning and strong showers were still pounding the course late in the afternoon.

Haigh was confident that Wilson and his grounds crew would have the course playable by Monday morning.

"Mark Wilson and his crew have performed seven days of miracles," Haigh said.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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