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Leader J.B. Holmes knows that Sunday will be difficult, but is comforted by the fact that all the leaders will face the same situation. (Franklin/Getty Images)

Marathon Sunday will pose unique challenges for all

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With the leaders looking at a 36-hole day, Sunday will be both draining and demanding. Whoever comes out on top will have conquered both the mental and physical aspects of championship golf.

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM Chief of Correspondents

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. - The drama will start early with Phil Mickelson poised over a 10-foot eagle putt at the sixth hole that could move him within two strokes of the lead.

And who knows? It could end with the winner of the 90th PGA Championship having played 36 holes on what is sure to be a draining and demanding Sunday at Oakland Hills.

Such a scenario materialized Saturday after more than half an inch of rain pelted the Donald Ross gem - causing a delay of more than four hours before play was suspended for the day at 6:28 p.m. Six players, including J.B. Holmes, who owns a one-stroke lead at 1 under, had yet to tee off in the third round.

Play will resume at 7:15 a.m. ET. David Toms and Henrik Stenson will begin their third rounds at 7:20, while Ben Curtis and Justin Rose will follow 10 minutes later. Holmes and Charlie Wi are slated for a 7:40 start.

"It's going to be like college again, playing 36 in one day," said Holmes, who is the only man in red numbers and leads Wi, Curtis and Rose by a stroke. "It happens, and everybody else is going to do it, too, so just have to go out there and deal with it."

With any luck - the forecast calls for a 30 percent of afternoon showers - the third round is expected to be completed at approximately 11:50 a.m. Players will be re-paired in groups of three and sent off Nos. 1 and 10 from 12:20-2:20 p.m.

"If all is well, we should still have time, even if there's a playoff, for a three-hole aggregate score playoff if need be," said Kerry Haigh, the PGA of America's managing director of championships. "But it will be tight."

As physically draining as the day could become, the mental challenge could be just as intense.

"I think that every one of us can play 36 holes," Curtis said. "Obviously the guys that finished today that played well will have a nice relaxing morning while we're out there grinding. It's going to be tough for us, but it can be done."

"It may be exhausting to play 36 holes, you're putting that much mental effort and everything into it," Holmes, who is playing in his eighth major. "It's rough."

Steve Flesch, who had made two birdies in his first five holes and stood 1 over for the tournament said he'd be surprised if they were able to get all 36 in on Sunday. "But one of those things where if you can play as much golf as you can and you're gone a good roll, it's fun to play," he said.

Haigh, who emphasized that pace of play would be important Sunday, said there didn't appear to be any damage from the storms. Rain continued until around 8 p.m., but Oakland Hills was draining well. Haigh said the greens and tees will be mowed in the morning, but that he wasn't sure there would be enough time between the rounds.

Oakland Hills was already being more generous in the third round - yielding its eighth 65 in major championship competition to Andres Romero. The rough beside the landing areas had been mowed and the fairways and greens had been watered to take some of the fire out. Sunday's conditions portend more of the same.

"That to me is the most curious thing about this delay is the amount of moisture that's soaked up," Flesch said. "I don't expect the fairways to be that much softer because they drained so well. The greens are a little bit softer and a little bit slower. I look for guys to, one, actually have a chance of knocking it at the hole, and two, making more birdies."

Haigh agreed.

"The conditions are going to dictate how the players play, and certainly if they are able to fire at the greens or at the flags, it will certainly create some more birdie opportunities and obviously more excitement," he said. "So we are looking forward to a great championship Sunday with an awful lot of golf for the spectators to come in and have a wonderful day and hopefully get some sunshine and a great champion."

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