Storms halt play for the third day in a row

PONTE VEDRA BEACH (Florida): Storms halted play for the third day in a row here on Sunday at the Players Championship, raising the chances for a Tuesday finish at a US PGA event that seems as if it might never end. 

England's Luke Donald and American Joe Durant shared the lead early in the third round on Sunday when downpours left the already saturated TPC at Sawgrass course unplayable for the remainder of the day. 

The event will be forced into a Monday for the third time in six years and could become the first US PGA tournament in a quarter century – since the 1980 Tucson Open – to finish on a Tuesday in order to play a full 72 holes. 

“At this point, we just want to get this thing done,” Durant said. “You just have to be prepared for whatever comes.” 

Both leaders managed a birdie in three holes before the storm began, leaving them on 11-under par, one stroke ahead of defending champion Adam Scott of Australia, England's Lee Westwood and Americans Zach Johnson and Tim Herron. 

Westwood and Donald hope to follow in the footsteps of Scotland's Sandy Lyle, the only European player to ever win this event. 

Round three was to resume yesterday morning with hopes of playing two rounds by sunset, although a bleak forecast raised the possibility of a Tuesday finish as organizers intend to play a full 72 holes at the eight million-dollar event. 

“This is one of the premier tournaments on the PGA Tour and if it means going to Tuesday, that's the right thing to do,” Scott said. 

Scott, trying to become the event's first back-to-back champion, fired three birdies in four holes to open the third round. 

“I was possibly expecting to hand over the trophy but I've put myself in position where maybe I can hang onto it for a little longer,” Scott said. 

“I played great for a couple of holes so it's a shame we got called off, because I wanted to keep playing forever the way I was playing. 

“I didn't warm up very well. I was a little anxious but I got on the course and it all just fell into place.  

“It was the first day this week my swing felt natural. Hopefully tomorrow I'll have that same feeling and a chance to win.” 

Herron, who matches a tournament record by firing six birdies in a row while finishing his second round Sunday morning, completed four holes of his third round. Westwood and Johnson finished three holes. 

“I think I was still asleep. That probably helped,” Herron said.  

“I'm not afraid to make my share of putts. You can't be ashamed that you're making bombs from everywhere. You have to go with the streak. You don't get them too often.” 

American Stewart Cink was seventh at nine-under par through six holes, one stroke ahead of Aussie Steve Elkington, Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell and Americans Jay Haas, Bob Tway and Kirk Triplett. 

Tiger Woods was nine back after four holes. 

Phil Mickelson, who will defend his first major title at the Masters in less than two weeks, was four shots behind after six holes. 

“The greens don't have the extra three, four, five feet of run-out, so we can be aggressive,” Mickelson said. 

Storms wiped out play on Friday and halted golfers for three hours on Saturday, leaving 71 players on the course when darkness fell, setting up an early Easter wake-up call to complete their second round. In all, 84 players made the cut. – AFP 

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