CHASKA, Minn. -- A hard overnight rain at Hazeltine National
Golf Club had officials scrambling Saturday to clear water off the
course in time for the PGA Championship to resume.
Three inches of rain fell in the Twin Cities, pushing the
completion of Friday's suspended second round back another two
hours in the morning.
But by the time the third round began at 11:30 a.m. CT, grounds
crew workers, other volunteers and Chaska firefighters had pumped
about 60,000 gallons of water -- 2,400 gallons per minute -- off the
course and back to Lake Hazeltine where it belonged.
The lake, which lies along holes 10 and 18, rose during the
rainstorm and flooded some of the course's lower-lying areas -- most
significantly around the front half of the No. 2 fairway and the
eighth hole's water hazard.
Hazeltine superintendent Jim Nicol arrived shortly after 4 a.m.,
an hour after he woke up.
''My wife told me, 'I think you have a storm on your hands,'''
Some wet spots remained, most noticeably in some of the sand
traps, but crews had cleared enough water off the course to satisfy
PGA officials with about 45 minutes to spare before the third round
''They were very happy,'' Nicol said. ''It's one of those things
you never plan for. But the fire department was huge. I think they
had as much fun as we did.''
Mickelson, who finished the third round at 10-over par 226, drew
the biggest cheers. Mickelson just wished he could have played
Eyes reddened, Mickelson searched for an explanation to his
recent poor performances. He tied for 66th in the British Open,
missed the cut at the Sprint International and was tied for 29th at
the Buick Open.
''I'm just not playing well,'' Mickelson said. ''There's no one
to blame but myself.''
Mickelson applauded everything else, though.
''The whole week, I thought the officials have done a real good
job of setting the course up, making it play fair. The community
here has really supported this tournament. They're such nice people
up here. The galleries here have been as nice as any other tour
stop we've had, supportive of every player. It's been a wonderfully
Forty-one golfers had to finish their second
round on Saturday morning because of the storm, and those players
waiting were in the same half of the field that was chased off for
nearly three hours by Thursday's bad weather.
''It's pretty difficult,'' said Ernie Els, who shot a 3-over 75
and headed into the final round with a 2-over 218. ''I was getting
ready for a 7:30 start, so there was a little waiting around.''
The wind was a bigger nuisance, but the delay was distracting,
Paul Azinger was one example. He was at 5 over and about to try
a long putt for birdie on No. 18 when the sirens sounded Friday.
Returning Saturday, he bogeyed the hole and wound up 6-over 150. A
birdie would've gotten him to the third round.
Wayne DeFrancesco, a club pro from Baltimore,
shot a 16-over 160. But he had a good time tagging along in a group
with Fred Funk, his friend and the leader for much of the second
round who finished Saturday in third place at 211.
''That was very exciting,'' DeFrancesco said. ''I was a little
overmatched by the course. I would have loved to have played
better, but you've got to bring a really sharp game to a course
like this. I'll be happy to get back to the guys I usually play
Hazeltine's layout puts the ninth and 18th
greens almost side-by-side with a bunker between them. From time to
time, groups on the 18th find themselves waiting to line up their
putts while a player is hitting on No. 9.
There's the potential for distraction at the interchange, but
the players didn't think it was much of a problem.
''It can be, but the players are very respectful about waiting
to putt off on the other green,'' Justin Rose said.
Stephen Ames withdrew after nine holes because of an
arthritis flare-up in his left hand. Ames, a 38-year-old Canadian
resident from Trinidad and Tobago, was 8 over. His doctor told him
he should be able to resume playing in a couple days if the
swelling subsides. ... With a strong left-to-right wind blowing,
players struggled on the par-4 10th hole -- except for the threesome
of Len Mattiace, Nick Faldo and Joel Edwards. With the pin placed
at the rear left of the green, which rests on the south shore of
the lake, the best approach was a dangerous carry over the water.
The players each took the risk and wound up with birdies. Of 72
players, only 10 birdies were recorded on that hole Saturday.