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Utah Classic golfers play waiting game

Jess Daley hits from the trees at Utah Classic.
Jess Daley hits from the trees at Utah Classic.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret Morning News

SANDY — For players at the EnvirocareUtah Classic, Friday turned into a day of sitting around, watching sports on TV and eating, eating and eating again. A few of the golfers and caddies organized a game of touch football out on the driving range to pass the time.

And there was plenty of time to pass.

Even though it hardly rained a drop at Willow Creek Country Club and the sun was shining much of the day, golfers couldn't play for more than five hours of the second round thanks to thunderstorms rolling across the valley to the east and west.

After two suspensions of play, one for 30 minutes and one for four hours and 45 minutes, golfers were finally able to squeeze in three more hours of golf before the sun went down at 7:45 p.m.

But at about 7:43 with one group playing the final hole, including a potential leader in the clubhouse, play was suspended a third time because of more thunderstorms in the area.

No wonder Nationwide Tour media official John Bush called Friday, "one of the strangest" days he'd ever experienced in his work as a PGA Tour official.

Of the 156 golfers in the field, only 72 were able to finish their rounds Friday, while three golfers withdrew during the long delay. The other 81 players, if they all decide to come back, will pick up where they left off first thing this morning when play resumes at 8 a.m.

Because a cut needs to be made after the second round, the third round won't begin until 1:30 p.m. and golfers will go out on both nines with the leaders teeing off at 3 p.m.

As for the leaders, well, that's kind of hard to sort out. Four golfers — Jerry Smith, Nathan Green, Kris Cox and Jess Daley — are "in the clubhouse" at 5-under-par 139.

However, five golfers are ahead of them at 6-under, including Matthew Goggin, Jeremy Anderson, Garrett Willis, Rich Barcelo. They completed anywhere from one to six holes late Friday afternoon and have long days ahead of them, assuming the weather cooperates.

Another five golfers are at 5-under with just a few holes under their belts, including Chris Baryla, Brandon deJonge, Nick Cassini, Bill Haas and Greg Kraft.

"It's pretty tough sitting around, especially when the weather is pretty good outside," said Green, a 30-year-old from Australia. "I watched a little women's tennis and the golf. I was just trying to pass the time. It's frustrating because you want to get out there and get it finished."

Frustrated is what Baryla was after his round. He was 6 under on the day and 6 under for the tournament with two holes left, meaning he was the likely clubhouse leader of the morning group.

However, he bogeyed the No. 8 hole (he started on the back nine) and had one hole left and seemingly plenty of time to finish. But after hitting his drive, a horn sounded, suspending play because of thunder in the area again.

"It's disappointing, but that's the way it goes," he said.

Baryla was planning on a 5:30 a.m. wakeup call to come out and play two or three shots, then a nap before a tee time around 3 p.m.

The fact that there were a few weather delays Friday was no surprise considering the history of the tournament.

Since the Utah Classic was reinstituted in 1999 after a two-year hiatus, weather delays have plagued the tournament. Except for last year's tourney, which escaped without a single delay, the five previous tournaments experienced delays ranging from an hour and 10 minutes in 2003 to 13-plus hours in 2002.

But those delays were usually because of rain, in addition to lightning.

Friday's delays added up to five hours and 15 minutes, even though it rained for perhaps 10 minutes all day. Thunder was rarely heard near the course, but the thunderstorms were close enough to the west to keep players off the course.

CLASSIC NOTES:Scott Gump made a hole in one at the par-3 No. 5 hole, hitting a 6-iron from 190 yards. It was the ninth hole in one in the tournament's history . . . Logan's Brett Wayment finished with a 73 for a 145 total. He'll likely miss the cut, which is expected to come at1-under 143 . . . Others in danger of missing the cut are former PGA Tour regulars Steve Pate, Jim McGovern and Grant Waite, who all finished at 144 . . . Ogden's Jimmy Blair, who shot a first-round 78, withdrew after playing four holes. He was 2-over on the day when he quit . . . Nationwide Tour leading money winner Troy Matteson (148) and Utah's Jay Don Blake (152) will both miss the cut. . . . The final round will be played Sunday with the winner receiving $81,000.


E-mail: sor@desnews.com