-- The second round of the LPGA Championship was washed out Friday because of heavy overnight rain and day-long showers, making the already saturated DuPont Country Club unplayable and forcing a 36-hole marathon Sunday.
Tournament officials called off play shortly before 10 a.m. today and announced the second round will be played Saturday. With 144 players still in the tournament, it would be impossible to get two rounds in Saturday, so the field will be cut to low 70 and ties Saturday evening, and the remaining players will begin third-round play Sunday at 6:30 a.m.
The final round Sunday will be aired by CBS, which announced today that it would extend its air time from the original 6 p.m. sign-off to 6:45 p.m., in an effort to get the full final round televised nationally.
"It's possible they might not stay with it" to conclusion, LPGA tournament rules official Janet Lindsay said. "But we feel if we do our jobs and they're trying their hardest for us, we think we can do this and complete it on time. That's our hope."
Last year, rain washed out part of Saturday's third round, and eventual champion Annika Sorenstam played a total of 33 holes Sunday. She defeated Grace Park on the first hole of sudden death, and the conclusion of the tournament was carried by CBS.
"With no weather problems, we should be able to finish on time," said Barb Trammell, the LPGA's vice president of tournament operations. "Pairings will remain the same for rounds three and four. That's our best way to get play completed quicker. We would waste an hour plus of time, even more, to wait for the entire round three to be completed and to re-pair. Now, the same groups will be in place. The first group will probably come in and have half an hour to go back out."
Jennifer Rosales of the Philippines has a one-shot lead in the second major championship of the LPGA season after she opened with a 5-under-par 66 on Thursday. Karen Stupples of England, Gloria Park of South Korea and Chiharu Yamaguchi of Japan were a shot behind, and Sorenstam and Grace Park were two strokes off the pace.
Rosales came to the golf course early this morning for her 8:43 starting time but was soon back at her nearby hotel prepared to spend the dreary day doing her laundry and watching a movie.
"I can't do anything about it," she said. "It's nature, you know. It's better [to cancel play early on Friday] instead of just going out again and coming in and out, back and forth. I'll just get my mind-set ready for the weekend."
After 1.1 inches of rain had fallen overnight, several greens were under water early this morning, and a number of puddles in bunkers had to be pumped out. The greens also were too soft to safely mow, another major reason the decision was made to postpone the second round until Saturday. Tournament officials said they had been told to expect no rain on the weekend.
Trammell said there was never any thought to cutting the tournament to 54 holes because it is a major championship. "If we have any way of completing all 72 holes, that's our goal," she said, including a Monday finish if necessary.