No surprise: Delay benefits Crane

Posted: Friday, July 22, 2005

MILWAUKEE — Ben Crane weathered the rain delay the best.

Crane, who was atop the leaderboard when thunderstorms interrupted the first round of the US Bank Championship on Thursday, continued his birdie bombardment on Brown Deer Park after a nearly 5-hour delay.

His 8-under 62 made him the clubhouse leader when play was suspended for the day at 6:30 p.m., after a second rain delay of about an hour. Ninety-three golfers in the field of 156 were still on the course — or waiting to tee off.

They were to resume the first round at 7 a.m. Friday, weather permitting, with the second round to start 4 hours later.

Crane was 4 under when the horn sounded just as he made the turn at 10:05 a.m.

''I just went back to the hotel, laid down and relaxed,'' Crane said. ''I came back and went through my regular routine. It worked out well. I was able to continue the momentum.''

Kenny Perry, the 2003 winner, shot a 63 and Chris Smith, Jeff Sluman and Jerry Kelly all had 64s on the par-70 course that is one of the shortest on the PGA Tour, measuring just 6,759 yards.

Lightning and high winds forced golfers to retreat to the clubhouse or their cars at midmorning and they didn't resume their rounds for 4 hours, 43 minutes.

The second wave of players didn't begin teeing off until 3 p.m., just as some of the early threesomes were signing their scorecards, and a second round of hard rain halted play again at 5:25 p.m.

When play was suspended for the day, 63 golfers had finished their rounds, 78 were still on the course and 15 were waiting to tee off.

This was the 14th event out of 31 tour stops this year to be affected by bad weather.

So, the players are used to dealing with delays.

''Not four hours,'' Smith said. ''I don't think I ever remember one that long. I came back out and I was stiff and I'm sure everybody else was, too.''

Still, Smith's round wasn't affected — even though his plans were.

''I was playing well. I would like to have kept going. But I came out and made a couple more birdies, so it worked out,'' he said. ''It's going to cut my afternoon short. I was looking for an afternoon nap, so that's not going to happen. It's probably going to mess up tomorrow a little bit but I'm early in the shuffle, so I should be able to get finished tomorrow, too.''

The golfers whiled away the time during the first delay by surfing the Internet, answering e-mails and eating lunch.

''You have to shut off your brain when you go inside and when you come back out you warm up like it's a brand new round,'' said Lee Janzen, who shot a 69. ''You go in there, you sit around, you talk about whatever, you watch TV, you walk around, you have a couple meals, you make some calls. Just keep yourself occupied.''

Smith said he hates to be on a golf course for very long, much less cooped up in the clubhouse.

''I don't like spending four hours at a golf course, period. Let alone in a locker room in a rain delay. No, it was a long one,'' he said. ''They said it was going to be a couple hours. So, I think it caught us all by surprise that we were in there that long.''

Crane wasn't caught off guard.

He went back to his hotel with his wife to relax and grab a light lunch, then drove back to the course when the dark clouds passed and the winds died down.

Evian Masters

EVIAN, France — Annika Sorenstam shot a 6-under 66 Thursday to climb into contention at the Evian Masters, two strokes behind second-round leaders Paula Creamer and Christina Kim.

Creamer and Kim each shot 4-under 68s and share the lead at 8-under 136. Sorenstam stood alone in second at 6 under, with Laura Davies and Carin Koch another stroke back.

Michelle Wie, a 15-year-old amateur from Hawaii, rebounded from her poor first round with a 70, but remained nine shots back at 1 over. The teenager opened with a 3-over 75.

Senior British Open

ABERDEEN, Scotland — Loren Roberts made his Champions Tour debut Thursday with a 1-over 72 at Royal Aberdeen to take a one-shot lead after the first round of the Senior British Open.

Roberts, who turned 50 on June 24, overcame some uncharacteristic three-putts and the strong North Sea wind that blew across the course and kept anyone from breaking par.

''I made some three-putts today, which I don't normally do,'' said Roberts, one of the best putters in golf. ''But all in all, I made some good putts today.''

Girls' Junior Amateur

EAGLE, Idaho — U.S. Women's Open runner-up Morgan Pressel lost in the third round of the U.S. Girls' Junior Amateur on Thursday, the second time in a month the 17-year-old was beaten by an opponent's late chip.

Pressel, who finished second at the Women's Open on June 26 after Birdie Kim chipped in from a greenside bunker, was eliminated Thursday when Juliana Murcia Ortiz of Columbia chipped in from 40 feet on the first extra hole.

Murcia Ortiz was two holes down with two remaining, and rallied with a 15-foot birdie putt at No. 17. She then forced an extra hole by winning the 18th when Pressel's second shot went into a greenside hazard.

On the first extra hole, Pressel, of Boca Raton, Fla., missed a 12-foot birdie try to extend the playoff.

''This hurts more,'' Pressel said. ''Obviously, she played well enough to win, but I kind of gave it away a little bit on 18.''

Murcia Ortiz defeated Hsiao-Ching Lu of Taiwan in the quarterfinals 2 and 1, and will face In-Kyung Kim of South Korea in Friday's semifinals.

In-Bee Park, the 2002 Junior champ, defeated Kimberly Kim, of Hawaii, 3 and 1 in the third round and beat Sydnee Michaels, of Temecula, Calif., 2-up to reach the semis.

Park will face Joanne Lee, who beat Tiger Woods' niece, Cheyenne Woods, 4 and 3 in the third round.

Michelle Wie is not competing in Idaho. The 15-year-old Hawaiian amateur, playing in the Evian Masters in France, shot a second-round 70 but is nine shots off the pace.

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