The 2004 Senior PGA Championship
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Umbrellas have been mandatory equipment so far at the Senior PGA. (Photo by Gene J. Puskar/AP)  

Back on Track

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. news services

NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. -- A huge day of golf looms Sunday at Aronimink Golf Club as the 64th Senior PGA Championship faces a monumental task to finish a full 72 holes and crown a champion as scheduled. But at least the weather is cooperating.

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 hope, both the third and fourth rounds can be completed before nightfall.

When play was called, Seiji Ebihara of Japan held the lead at four under par, with Allen Doyle, John Jacobs and Gil Morgan tied for second at two under par.

If all goes as planned Sunday, said Kerry Haigh, the Senior Director for Tournaments at the PGA of America, the players will tee off in the fourth round between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. If there are no further delays, he explained, the event could end between 5 and 6 p.m., he said. If necessary, he added, play could spill over to Monday.

Saturday Grounds, Clubhouse and Trophy Club tickets will be honored on Sunday, officials said. Corporate Hospitality and Champions Club tickets will be honored as Grounds tickets with access to the Trophy Club on Sunday.

General public parking for Sunday will be at Delaware County Community College located off Route 252, two miles south of the Route 3 intersection. Volunteer and Corporate Hospitality parking will be 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."

Ebihara didn't mind the wet, dreary weather that forced the suspension of the third round before noon Saturday. Ebihara birdied two of his first five holes, moving to 4-under and taking a two-stroke lead before rain forced play to be halted.

Ebihara hopes that the momentum he built Friday with a course-record tying 4-under 66 and maintained Saturday will carry over.

"I really didn't want to stop it," Ebihara said through a translator. "But looking at how it was on the 18th hole, it's something that couldn't be helped."

The 54-year-old Ebihara has played in nine Champions Tour events, finishing in the top-10 in only one tournament.

But Ebihara, who has spent much of his career in Asia and Europe, is playing his fourth Senior PGA. His 5-under 65 in the final round at the Firestone last year gave his confidence entering this year's tournament.

"Now, I understand how the courses are laid out," Ebihara said. "I understand how you're supposed to play."

Ebihara didn't miss a fairway or a green in regulation in his shortened round. He made two birdie putts, on the third and fifth holes, to reach 4 under.

Meanwhile, Morgan and Doyle struggled.

Morgan, who also tied the course record with a 66 Friday, parred his first hole before getting consecutive bogeys on the par-4 second and third. Doyle also had two bogeys -- on Nos. 3 and 4 -- to fall into the three-way tie for second.

"It was very difficult out there," Morgan said. "There are so many things going on. Opening umbrellas, trying to keep dry. It makes it more complicated. And the grass is so wet. You don't know what's going to happen with the ball."

The leaders are facing the possibility of 31 holes Sunday -- if the weather cooperates.

"Fatigue will be a factor," Morgan said. "The golf course will play long. The rough's going to be high."

Ten golfers started the day under par on Saturday. Only four -- Ebihara, Doyle, Morgan and Jacobs -- stayed there.

Tom Kite opened the third round at 2 under, but he made a triple bogey at No. 3 and was at even-par after five holes. Defending champion Fuzzy Zoeller bogeyed three of his seven holes and was at 1 over.

Craig Stadler got off to the roughest start, but it had nothing to do with the weather. Stadler was late for his 10:05 a.m. tee time and penalized two strokes. He completed seven holes at 3 over par after starting the day at 1 under.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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