Sports

Rain stops third round of Honda Classic

Completion of the third round of the Honda Classic is delayed to Sunday because of heavy rain, winds

A massive rainstorm that settled over PGA National Resort & Spa early Saturday afternoon forced the stoppage of the third round of the Honda Classic. Play will resume Sunday morning and the tournament will conclude Monday, weather permitting.

Padraig Harrington was at seven-under-par 133 for two rounds and had a one-shot lead over Patrick Reed.

PGA Tour rules official Slugger White said the condition of the Champion course, which received four inches of rain Saturday, would not allow play to resume before 10 a.m. EST. His original plan was to get players back on the course for the third round at 7 a.m.

With the later start, White said players will not be re-paired for the final round. Instead, they will play in the same threesomes after finishing the third round Sunday, "as long as we can, right up to dark, and then finish on Monday morning."

Winds gusting up to 55 mph were reported during the worst of the storm, which flooded the course's greens and fairways, as well as some roads.

The start of the third round was delayed because of Friday's storm-delayed second round, which was stopped twice for almost four hours by rain and lightning. The second round was completed Saturday morning by the 67 players who had failed to finish.

After the cut was set at four-over 144 — Rory McIlroy missed the cut with rounds of 73 and 74 — the first of the 71 players who survived teed off on the 1st and 10th holes at noon.

Play stopped at 12:51 p.m. when the lightning detector siren sounded. At that point, 24 players had completed at least one hole. The rain moved in shortly thereafter and deluged the Champion course. The decision to stop play for the day came at 2:51 p.m.

Harrington played the final 12 holes of his second round Saturday morning and ended up with a 66. Along with his opening 67, that gave him a one-shot lead over Reed, who shot 67s Thursday and Friday.

"I was really happy with my game," Harrington said. "Came back this morning and it was great again. When I turned for home, I struggled a little bit."

Harrington won the 2005 Honda Classic, and three majors from 2007 to '08, but he has struggled this season. He missed the cut in five of eight events and his best finish was a tie for 56th last week at the Northern Trust Open.

"It's nice to be in contention," he said "I'm very positive about my game coming in here this week. I don't know what's going to happen the next 36 holes, but I have a good idea where I'm going. I'm pretty confident."

Brendan Steele was at 135 after shooting 66-69. He had birdied his first four holes Friday to get to eight under before dropping back to five under Saturday morning.

"I would have liked it to be a little better after the start, obviously, but I played holes yesterday and today in tough conditions, so I'll take it," Steele said.

He was tied with Ian Poulter, who shot 71 Thursday and came back Saturday morning to finish off a 64.

"It was a good start yesterday and I played pretty solid today," Poulter said. "If I play half as good as I played today, then I'm going to have a chance come Monday. I'm hitting good shots, I'm holing a few putts and if you're going to do that, then you've got half a chance."

Phil Mickelson, who missed the cut here last year, finished off a 67 Saturday morning to go with an opening 71 and is five shots behind Harrington.

swaters@trippub.com

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