Mon, Aug 13, 2012 - Page 17 News List

Rain cuts short McIlroy’s charge at lead

NATURE INTERVENES:The players were called off the course on Saturday when thunderstorms started, with Rory McIlroy and Vijay Singh tied for the lead at six-under

AFP, KIAWAH ISLAND, South Carolina

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hits off the sixth tee in Round Three of the 94th PGA Championship on Saturday at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

Photo: AFP

Rory McIlroy’s climb up the leaderboard was cut short on Saturday after play in the third round of the 94th PGA Championship was suspended because of thunderstorms.

McIlroy had an entertaining third-round charge at the season’s final major championship as he opened his round with two consecutive birdies, then had his tee shot on No. 3 get stuck in a tree on the soggy Kiawah Island Ocean Course.

McIlroy, last year’s US Open champ, was four-under through nine holes on the day and tied for the lead with Vijay Singh at six-under overall when the horn sounded in the late afternoon to call the players off the course.

“It was a great start, the start I was looking to get off to,” McIlroy said. “I saw that a few guys early in the day got off to good starts and I wanted to do that too.”

Former two-time PGA champion Singh was two-under through seven holes in his round while playing alongside world No. 2 Tiger Woods.

After one of the toughest rounds in PGA Championship history on Friday, Mother Nature bared her teeth again on Saturday as the storm clouds that had threatened all day finally arrived.

Organizers suspended play at 6:30pm with the remainder of the third round scheduled to resume at 7:45am yesterday. Once the third round is complete, the final round is scheduled to go off in groups of three, beginning at 11:44am.

PGA of America spokesman Kerry Haigh said he did not think there would be a problem getting all the rounds completed by last night.

“Unfortunately, the weather gods turned against us today,” Haigh said. “We had lightning very close by and obviously some heavy rain, but the forecast for tomorrow is very positive.”

Australia’s Adam Scott was alone in third at five-under overall after playing nine holes on Saturday, while second-round co-leader Carl Pettersson of Sweden was in fourth at four-under overall.

Woods, who shared the second-round lead with Pettersson, tumbled down the leaderboard on Saturday as he had three bogeys through his first seven holes and was one-under on the tournament, five strokes back of McIlroy and Singh.

Fiji’s Singh, who turns 50 in February, is trying to become the oldest player to win a major golf championship.

The US’ Bo van Pelt was the clubhouse leader at three-under after a five-under 67 on Saturday.

McIlroy birdied the par-four first and par-five second holes before going on an adventure on the 390-yard, par-four third hole. The 23-year-old Northern Irishman hit his drive high in the air and when it came down it got stuck in a dead branch of a Cypress tree.

McIlroy spent a several minutes looking for it on the ground and was just about to climb the tree when someone spotted it and alerted him. He had to take an unplayable lie and hit his next shot to 10 feet and made par.

“I was sure it’s just somewhere around here in these long grass things or in the wood chip or whatever,” he said. “We’d been looking for it for about three minutes and then one of the guys that was working for the TV came over and said: ‘You know, it’s actually stuck in the tree.’”

“I’m like, how can it be stuck in this thing? There’s no branches, no leaves for it to be stuck in. It had wedged itself in between the tree bark and the actual tree, so I was just happy to get it up-and-down for four,” he added. “I think that’s the first time a ball has ever got stuck up a tree on me. Hopefully it doesn’t happen again.”

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