|Haas owns 3-shot lead at weather-plagued Memorial|
|Written by RUSTY MILLER, AP Sports Writer|
|Saturday, 01 June 2013 05:06|
DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — No rain cloud or puddle appears on the giant Memorial Tournament crest built into the new clock tower at Muirfield Village's clubhouse.
They're usually all around the course, however.
The weather won out again on Friday when Bill Haas played early in the day to go low before storms twice suspended play and then finally ended the second round for the day with 42 players yet to finish. The round was scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. EDT Saturday followed by the third round.
Haas, who used to caddie on occasion for his father Jay while he was piling up nine top-10 finishes at the Memorial, bogeyed the last hole but still shot a 5-under 67 for a 9-under-135 total and a three-stroke lead over four players. Matt Kuchar (70) and three players who have yet to finish — first-round leader Charl Schwartzel, Bubba Watson and Kyle Stanley — shared second place at 2 under.
The top two players in the world — top-ranked Tiger Woods and No. 2 Rory McIlroy — took different routes to a similar score. Woods never could get anything going and surprisingly had problems on the par 5s, shooting a 74 to stand at 1-over 145.
"Tough conditions out there and I didn't exactly play my best either," said Woods, who had to battle gusting winds but still is even on the par-5 holes over 36 holes. "It's not that hard to make bogeys and doubles on this golf course. You miss the ball in the wrong spot, get the wrong gust, it's tough."
McIlroy, befuddled after an erratic 78 in the opening round, collected himself to turn things around. He was 4 under for the round and 2 over for the tournament through 14 holes when play was suspended.
"Yesterday it was funny — I was just a little off, my concentration just wasn't really there," he said. "Today I really focused and saw my shots a lot better. And I've played nicely so far."
Haas, playing in just the fourth group off the tee, took advantage of conditions without a lot of wind and with little or no precipitation. He opened with three pars and then went birdie, eagle, birdie. He would have had an even bigger lead but he needed three to get down from over the green on his last hole.
The tournament, course, and the legend behind both, Jack Nicklaus, have meant a lot to the Haas family and Bill in particular.
"I caddied here for my dad when I was in college and loved it," he said. "Mr. Nicklaus gave me a sponsor exemption when I first turned pro to play in this event. It's something I'll never forget. It meant a lot to me."
Back in the days when Haas looped for his dad, who now plays on the Champions Tour, he always brought home a memento.
"I used to always get a T-shirt here every year I came," he said. "I do have tons of Muirfield Village T-shirts. They have the softest T-shirts."
Now, as is often the case, the course will also have soft greens. Heavy rains resulted in a round being interrupted for the 40th time in the tournament's 38 years — more than one of every four rounds played.
Play was suspended for 22 minutes earlier in the day, then again for 1 hour, 27 minutes. A major storm front then hit the area, stopping play early in the evening.
Kuchar's 70 featured four birdies and included two bogeys — one on his final hole. He said the conditions made everything a trial — and he avoided the biggest storms.
"This course is hard without wind. It's difficult and challenging on a normal day," he said. "Putting is challenging. These greens are similar to Augusta National. You throw in 20-plus mile-an-hour winds and it becomes really difficult."
Schwartzel was 1 over for the day through 15 holes and 6 under for the tournament. Watson was at 5 under through 14 and Stanley was 1 under for his round through 13 holes.
Watson was already planning ahead to what he'd do on Saturday.
"If I can come in and make some pars in the morning, hopefully I can get a little nap in and then be ready for the afternoon round," he said.
Scott Stallings, after a first-round 70, was on the 14th hole at 5 under for the tournament. Justin Rose, the Memorial winner three years ago, Robert Karlsson and Charlie Wi were at 4 under.
Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old Chinese eighth-grader, lapsed to a 79 after an opening 72 and was destined to miss the cut when the round is completed.
Getting through the third round might be difficult as well. A line of storms is expected early Saturday afternoon and into Sunday morning, said Slugger White, the tour's vice president of competition.
Woods, who has won five times at the Memorial including last year, has played in 13 Memorials and seen just about every color on weather radar and everything except a plague of locusts at the tournament. He tried to put a good spin on what the golfers faced by comparing it to what it could be — and has been.
"It's warm out. I've seen it blow like this but be 40 (degrees)," he said. "Those are the hard ones. At least it's warm and the ball's flying. We're hitting downwind on holes and 5-woods are going 300 yards. So it's traveling. We've had days where it has been like this and it's not warm at all."
That'll be a minor consolation for the struggles that likely lie ahead.
Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/RustyMillerAP
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.
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