A thunderstorm prevented 90 of the field of 156 golfers from completing their second round of the $350,000 Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic today, but the 66 of Washington's Lee Elder was counted as official and he was the leader among the finishers. Because of the partial rainout, the tournament has been reduced from 72 to 54 holes.
The remainder of the players resume their second round Saturday, starting at 10 a.m. from the point they stopped today. Elder and the 66 others who completed their round today will not play Saturday. The tournament will conclude Sunday with an 18-hole round. It marks the first time a PGA tournament has been reduced from 72 holes to 54 holes without the purse being reduced.
"We didn't want to miss our television slot on Sunday (from 2-4 p.m. on NBC) because we want this tournament to become established here at Kingsmill," said Orion Burkhardt, chairman of the tournament executive committee.
"We feel NBC should be able to televise the meaningful end of the tournament in the scheduled slot on Sunday. We also don't want to keep the players from winning prize money."
Another factor in the decision to switch to 54 holes was the PGA rule preventing some players playing more than 27 holes in a day during which others play just 18, as would have been the case on Saturday.
Play will be completed Saturday by 3 p.m. so NBC's Saturday golf telecast from 5 to 6 p.m. will be taped instead of live.
Elder played early in the morning and moved into the lead with his best round in more than a year. Elder, who shot an opening 72, completed the 36 holes at 138 and was the clubhouse leader when a thunderstorm struck at 1:42 p.m. PGA Tour officials waited four hours before calling off further play for the day.
Elder played the back nine first and made his first birdie at the 506-yard par-5 15th hole, where he hit his wedge third shot six feet from the hole and sank the putt. He birdied the next hole after he hit a seven-iron approach shot eight feet from the cup, and went out in 33.
Elder then moved to the front nine and birdied the par-3 fifth hole from 12 feet and the par-4 sixth, also from 12 feet. He completed the round just before the rain delay by hitting a sand wedge second shot on the ninth hole three feet from the cup and sinking the putt.
Calvin Peete, one stroke behind first-round leader Bruce Lietzke after a 66, birdied the first hole today and parred the next two to pull even with Lietzke before when rain fell. Lietzke had hit two shots on the first hole, a drive and an approach shot just to the left of the par-4 first green.