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Frigid Weather Wins Out

BellSouth Classic Starts After Delay

Associated Press
Sunday, April 3, 2005; Page E08

Cold, wind, rain and a sprinkling of snow left players scrambling for winter clothing in the BellSouth Classic in Duluth, Ga.

Billy Mayfair was 4 under par through 13 holes yesterday to take a one-stroke lead in the first round of the rain-delayed tournament, shortened to 54 holes after the stormy conditions wiped out the first two days of play.

Phil Mickelson chipped to the green during the first round of the BellSouth Classic in Atlanta. (John Bazemore -- AP)

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"Hit that shot, put on some more clothes, put a ski cap on, gloves on, walk down the fairway, take it all off, hit that shot," said Scott McCarron, the 1997 and 2001 winner who was a stroke behind Mayfair after a 3-under 69.

After originally planning a 36-hole finish tomorrow to complete 72 holes, PGA Tour official Slugger White said the players will play only a single round.

"Well, unfortunately, we have exhausted everything to play 72 holes. It just won't work," White said.

Rain has affected eight of the 14 tournaments on tour so far this year. Last week, the Players Championship also finished on a Monday in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Mayfair was among 63 players who did not finish the round, which will be completed this morning. McCarron, J.L. Lewis and Ted Purdy were the leaders in the clubhouse at 3-under 69, and Brett Quigley and Ryuji Imada also were 3 under. Quigley completed 16 holes, and Imada played 11.

Phil Mickelson, preparing for his title defense next week in the Masters, was 2 over through 15 holes.

"The hardest part is when it's cold and you have delays, it's hard to stay warm," said Mayfair, who wore a stocking cap that covered his ears.

The 38-year-old Mayfair, a five-time winner in his PGA Tour career, had four birdies in his abbreviated round.

Rain washed out the first two rounds at the TPC at Sugarloaf, postponing the opening round until yesterday. Play began at 7 a.m., with the temperature in the high 30s and wind gusting to 40 mph. Play was suspended for 99 minutes when a quick-moving storm brought rain and snow flurries at mid-morning.

"It's been windy and raining every week just about, but the temperature this morning was, I don't know what it was, 40 maybe, or something like that," Lewis said.

Rich Beem, who teed off at 7:27 a.m., said it was 38 degrees when he went to the driving range before the round.

• EUROPEAN TOUR: In Cascais, Portugal, Former British Open champion Paul Lawrie overcame bad weather to shoot a 5-under 66 and take a one-stroke lead in the rain-interrupted third round of the Portugal Open.

Rainstorms forced three stoppages as strong winds swept the oceanside Oitavos course near Lisbon. Lawrie was ahead of Barry Lane, who completed 15 holes before bad light stopped play. Lane was one of six players who didn't complete their round.

Lawrie, who hasn't won since the Wales Open in 2002 and made just 12 cuts in 23 events last year, had seven birdies and two bogeys to go into the clubhouse at 11 under. Alastair Forsyth and Stephen Dodd were at 6 under.

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