Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Deluge Threatens First Round

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Deluge Threatens First Round

Article excerpt

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. -- One veteran of U.S. Opens commented:

"It's not the Open without rain."

That came true in frightening proportions yesterday. A powerful

thunderstorm around 12:30 p.m. doused the Oakland Hills Country

Club with more than 2 1/2 inches of rain in less than 20 minutes

and closed the course for practice the rest of the day.

However, United States Golf Association officials offered

assurances that the first round of the Open would start this

morning, barring further rain. Area forecasts were for clearing

weather yesterday and through today.

"Our plan is to start on time," said Buzz Taylor, chairman of

the USGA's championship committee. "It looks as if things are

going to be good through tomorrow, but we did have to close the

course to allow crews to get ready for the tournament."

Since the Open is played in June, weather delays in play are

common. But there never has been a day where the tournament was

completely postponed before the first groups were scheduled to

begin.

USGA officials said there would not be a lift, clean and place

policy, an occasional rule variation allowed on PGA Tour events

when fairways are wet. Tim Morgan, the championship committee

agronomist, called it "lift, clean and cheat."

"I've seen worse," Morgan said about the rain. "Oak Hill in

1989, for instance. We'll play."

Even if the rains cease, the course will be soggy. Players were

divided about how that will affect the tournament.

"When you have wet conditions, it broadens [the number of

players who can win]," said Tom Watson. "When greens are hard

and fast, there are fewer players who can win. When the greens

are softer, more players can win."

Davis Love disagreed.

"When it rains, Tom Watson's eyes light up," Love said. "The

U. …

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