Tournament will be reduced to 36 holes

Updated: May 19, 2001, 9:23 PM ET
Associated Press

BEAVERCREEK, Ohio – After a 2½-hour suspension of play, the first round of the LPGA Champions Classic was washed out Friday by heavy rain and lightning.

The scheduled 54-hole event will be shortened to 36 holes, with no cut. All scores were erased, with the entire field starting fresh Saturday.

Kristal Parker, without a top-50 finish this year, was the leader at 3-under through seven holes with half the 140-player field yet to tee off at the Country Club of the North.

Defending champion Annika Sorenstam, seeking her sixth victory of the year, was at par through two holes when play was suspended. The course was rocked by torrential rain, thunder and lightning for most of the next two hours until tour officials called off the round.

Earlier this year, Sorenstam had her bid for a fifth consecutive victory hampered when the Longs Drugs Challenge at Lincoln, Calif., was shortened from 72 to 54 holes by inclement weather. Se Ri Pak won the tournament.

"It's difficult with a 54-hole event when something like this happens," Sorenstam said. "A Thursday start gives you more flexibility. The course is unplayable, so I agree with the decision, but 36 holes is obviously less of a test of golf than 54, which is less of a test than 72."

The forecast for Saturday and Sunday was for clearing weather.

"The situation is obvious," said LPGA tournament official Jim Haley, who also oversaw play at the Longs Drugs Challenge. "The course is under water and the threat for severe weather is imminent – lightning and heavy rain all afternoon and into the evening. Having seen that, it wouldn't be fair to put the players on the course in those conditions."

The only spots at the 18th hole not under water were the tee area and the green. A large marsh right of the hole had overflowed and flooded the fairway.

The last time an LPGA event was shortened to 36 holes was the City of Hope Myrtle Beach Classic in 1999, a 72-hole tournament that was cut in half.

The last 54-hole event cut to 36 holes was the Los Angeles Women's Championship in 1998.


Copyright 2001 by The Associated Press

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