Rogers, Arkansas:The US LPGA Tour shortened the rain-soaked NW Arkansas Championship to 18 holes, setting up a bizarre finish on Sunday that will be closed to the public.
The tournament was originally scheduled for 54 holes, but it began 4-1/2 hours late on Friday. Play was suspended again around 11 am lcoal time on Saturday. All but 32 players had completed the first round when the second delay began - and the remaining golfers were expected back on Sunday morning to finish.
There won't be many people watching them. The public won't have access to the event. Adam Harris, the tournament's marketing and communications coordinator, cited flooding at parking lots and safety hazards at the course as reasons for closing off the tournament.
"The course is unplayable, and it's really unwalkable as well," Harris said.
A few golfers will try to play on Sunday - rain was expected again. Stats and money from the event will be unofficial.
US college champion Stacy Lewis was atop the leaderboard after a 7-under 65, which she finished on Saturday just a few minutes before a heavy downpour sent people scurrying for cover. Lewis was trying to become the first amateur to win a US women's golf tour event since JoAnne Carner in 1969. Lewis plays college golf at nearby University of Arkansas.
Pak Jin-young appeared to be the only player with a decent chance to catch Lewis. She was at 5 under with four holes remaining.
The LPGA Tour said in a release that the event at Pinnacle Country Club was being shortened because of "heavy rains resulting in unplayable course conditions."
At one point, the 18th fairway was flooded. Conditions there improved later in the day after players had left, but large puddles were all over the course.
Eleven players at this event will also play in the Solheim Cup next weekend in Sweden. Their original plan was to fly out of Arkansas early Sunday evening, but US captain Juli Inkster said shortly after play was suspended on Saturday that the Solheim players were prepared to stay until Monday to finish this tournament.
"You can't just back out on a golf tournament," Inkster said. "You're here to support the golf tournament."
Kristy McPherson, Katherine Hull and Teresa Lu shot 66s Friday on the 6,238-yard course and were a stroke behind Lewis. Inkster and Sherri Turner were another stroke back at 67.