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Oakmont Has Golfing Sea of Confusion : Once Again, Rains Frustrate LPGA's Game of Catchup

March 16, 1986|SHAV GLICK | Times Staff Writer

The longer the GNA/Glendale Federal LPGA tournament goes, the more confusing it gets.

The water-logged women of the LPGA finished the first 36 holes of the tournament sometime Saturday morning and started off on the third round, only to have a steady rain cause play to be halted with the leaders still on the soggy course.

Jane Geddes and Chris Johnson were both one under par after playing 12 afternoon holes--making 48 in all.

Laurie Rinker, who tied a course record with a three-under-par 69 in her Friday-Saturday second round, and Juli Inkster were next at one over par. They both played 12 holes.

Shelley Hamlin, who had shared the 36-hole lead with Rinker at three-under-par 141, lost six strokes to par in 12 afternoon holes.

Only 19 of the 70 players who made the cut managed to finish the third round. Leaders in the clubhouse are Val Skinner, winner of the opening tournament this year in Boca Raton, Fla., and Betsy King, 1983 LPGA player of the year, at six over par 222.

Surprisingly, despite rains that halted play both Thursday and Saturday, and chilly winds and soggy fairways, the cut of 154 was lower than last year's 155 when conditions were ideal.

The cut took its toll of favorites. Laura Baugh, Donna Caponi and two-time 1986 winner Mary Beth Zimmerman were at 155. Patty Sheehan, a winner of 14 tournaments in six years, had 158.

The scenarios for the conclusion of the $250,000 tournament are endless.

If the rains continue today and Monday, as is predicted, Rinker and Hamlin might be declared co-winners of a 36-hole tournament.

"That would be sort of a backward way of doing it," Rinker said. "I think we'll get in six holes somehow."

If LPGA officials can get in six holes between rain drops today and Monday, the winner could be the 54-hole leader. If that happens, the champion would probably receive the full $37,500 first-prize money.

If rains and/or darkness prevent completion of 72 holes today, and officials feel they might get them in by continuing Monday, that is what they will do.

"We lost a day at Sarasota last month and finished on Monday," LPGA Commissioner John Laupheimer said. "We would like to get in 72 holes."

The 51 players who did not finish their round Saturday will resume play at 7:30 a.m. today, with the fourth round scheduled to start at 12:15.

Rinker's 69 equaled the record set by Vicki Fergon in the fourth round of the inaugural GNA tournament last year.

"I wasn't aware of the record," she said between rounds. "I started off well with birdies on No. 1 and No. 3 and I tried to stay patient and make as many birdies as I could."

When the horn sounded to stop play at 4:42 p.m., Geddes was in a bunker on the 12th hole and Johnson was in the middle of the fairway on the 13th hole, having just hit her tee shot.

Geddes elected to finish the hole, blasting out of the wet sand and sinking a four-foot putt to save par.

"I wouldn't have wanted to come back in the morning and face that putt," she said. "I wouldn't have wanted to hit the trap shot, either, because I wouldn't have known what the sand was like."

Johnson, who had just rolled a 25-foot putt through the wet grass for a birdie on No. 12, elected to mark her ball on the 13th fairway and return to it this morning.

When play is stopped, players have the option of finishing the hole or marking their ball.

"It was brutal out there," Geddes said. "All I would do was stay out as long as they didn't stop play and try to make pars."

Johnson, who grew up in Eureka, Calif., where rainy days are a way of life, didn't seem bothered by the wet conditions.

"Other stuff can happen that's really bad," Johnson said. "This was just playing golf in the rain. There are lots of worse things than that."

Most of the players looked as if they were dressed for skiing rather than golf, clad in ski hats, multiple layers of sweaters, thermal underwear and wearing huge mittens.

"The worst thing was the rain," Geddes said. "You can put on more clothes against the wind and cold, but when you can't keep your hands or the clubs dry, you lose control of your game. That is more irritating than being cold."

Hamlin found a different problem.

"There were worms all over the place (on the greens)," she said. "That's why my putts didn't drop. The worms kept getting in the way."

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