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NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. -- The final round of the 64th Senior PGA Championship is underway at Aronimink Golf Club after the field finished up the third round Sunday morning. The fourth round teed off at approximately 11 a.m., and tournament officials say the event is on schedule to finish as planned late Sunday afternoon.
On a morning in which no one really knew what to expect from the still-wet golf course and the over-50 competitors facing as many as 31 holes of golf, Des Smyth pulled the biggest surprise.
Smyth, a former European Ryder Cup player and European Tour winner from Ireland, wrapped up a 5-under 65 Sunday morning to jump over overnight leader Seiji Ebihara and into the lead. Smyth carded a four-birdie, five-par back-nine 31 in what was easily the best performance of the morning.
Defending champion Fuzzy Zoeller remained very much in contention by concluding his second straight even-par 70 to start the fourth round at 1-under 209. Zoeller has been a picture of consistency so far, playing the front nine in even par and the back nine in one under par so far this week.
Ebihara struggled a bit as play resumed Sunday morning, as did fellow contenders Gil Morgan and Allen Doyle. Doyle managed only a 2-over 37 on his third-round front nine, while Morgan had four bogeys in the first 11 holes of his third round before settling down.
Ebihara, who had played better than anyone in the difficult conditions earlier in the week, double bogeyed the par-4 No. 10 Sunday morning during a nine-hole stretch in which he was five over par. But all three entered the final round still very much in contention.
Also playing well so far on Sunday are Bobby Wadkins and Doug Tewell, who won a rain-wrecked Senior PGA Championship in Florida a few years ago. Wadkins, who almost won last year in Ohio, posted a 68, while Tewell finished with a 69 as both finished the third round solidly in the top 10.
Among other prominent players, Bruce Lietzke, Larry Nelson and Ray Floyd are tied at 2-over 212 through three rounds. Nelson finished up a 69 Sunday morning, while Nelson and Floyd recorded 70s. Bruce Fleisher and Dana Quigley are among those tied at 6-over 216 after Fleisher came in with a 75 and Quigley posted a 74.
Hale Irwin is at 8-over 218 after a third-round 72, while Tom Watson, the 2001 champ, is at 7-over 217 after his second straight 73. Gary McCord, Bill Rogers and Andy North also finished three rounds at 7-over.
The rain, which washed out play before noon on Saturday, let up overnight, and play resumed at 8 a.m. Sunday with the field in the middle of the third round. The players picked up where they left off Saturday, which left the leaders facing as many as 31 holes if, as tournament officials are planning, the tournament can finish up on time late Sunday afternoon.
Saturday Grounds, Clubhouse and Trophy Club tickets are being honored on Sunday, officials said. Corporate Hospitality and Champions Club tickets are being honored as Grounds tickets with access to the Trophy Club on Sunday.
General public parking for Sunday is at Delaware County Community College located off Route 252, two miles south of the Route 3 intersection. Volunteer and Corporate Hospitality parking is at the SAP America lot V parking area in Newtown Square.
Haigh and his fellow tournament officials suspended play at 11:53 a.m. Saturday when they deemed the course had become unplayable. They made that decision after they realized that players could not find suitable drop areas.
"When it became sort of unfair, at that point, we immediately suspended play -- when the player's nearest point of relief was 40 yards away in the rough, which it was on No. 9 fairway," he said. Up until then, players had to move the ball in and around the hole for putts and what have you, and the distance they were moving was not substantial