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Irwin, Couples Join Battle for Top Spot : Pair Plus Lyle, Calcavecchia at 8 Under When Darkness Halts Play

February 05, 1989|From Associated Press

Hale Irwin advanced into a four-way tie for the lead Saturday as rain and darkness forced third-round play of the $1 million Los Angeles Open to be suspended.

Irwin, 43, a two-time U.S. Open champ, completed only nine holes before darkness settled over the rain-soaked Riviera Country Club course halting play for the day.

At that point, halfway through the round, he was tied with Masters champion Sandy Lyle of Scotland and Mark Calcavecchia for the lead at 169, eight under par for 45 holes. Fred Couples, playing in front of them, birdied the 11th hole and also was eight under.

"We'll come back early Sunday morning to finish the third round, then start the final round about 10:30 (a.m., PST)," said Mike Shea, Tournament Director for the PGA Tour.

Shea was aware, however, that his weather worries may not be over.

"We've got a forecast for a 50% chance of more rain," he said.

Should further delays occur, the possibility exists for a Monday finish, Shea said.

"If half the field completes fourth-round play, it's an official round. And that means we come back Monday," he said.

The weather problems began Friday when a drizzling rain turned to steady showers, flooded some greens on the Riviera Country Club course and forced an overnight delay in completing the second round.

Almost half the field, 71 players, were forced to finish their rounds Saturday morning in a chilly rain and winds strong enough to knock branches off trees.

Couples did the best job in those dreadful conditions, finishing off a 68 and moving to within three shots of the lead at 137.

Lyle, Calcavecchia and Irwin all completed second-round play on Friday. Lyle and Calcavecchia shared the top spot at 134.

Irwin, who narrowly avoided serious injury when he was struck in the forehead by a ball during pro-am play Wednesday, was at 137.

Continued bad weather delayed the start of the third round. It was after 3 p.m. when the leaders began play.

"The waiting around, the uncertainty of whether we were going to play, is the most difficult part of it," Irwin said.

Irwin began three shots back of Lyle and Calcavecchia and birdied four of the first six holes, including a 70-foot putt on No. 3. He played the front side 3-under-par 32. Lyle and Calcavecchia each reached the turn in par 35. Couples was out in 33, then got a share of the lead with his birdie on the 11th hole .

Steve Pate was next at 6-under par for the tournament through 10 holes.

Tied at 5 under par were Nick Faldo of Britain, Donnie Hammond, Mark Brooks, Mike Reid and Gene Sauers. Reid and Sauers were through nine holes, Brooks through 11, Faldo 13 and Hammond 16.

Tom Watson was one of only nine men who completed third-round play. He had a 73 and was at 215, 2-over par.

Andy Magee, Tommy Armour III and D.A. Weibring were the clubhouse leaders at 213. Each shot a third-round 71.

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