Neither rain, thunder nor impending darkness could stop Tom Weiskopf from taking control of the U.S. Senior Open.
Weiskopf, shaking off a rain delay of nearly 4 hours, had four birdies and 10 pars over 14 holes Saturday before darkness suspended play in the third round of the $1 million tournament.
Weiskopf moved to 10-under par and held a two-shot lead over Isao Aoki when play was halted with 10 golfers still on the Congressional Country Club course. After extending his string of bogey-free holes to 20, Weiskopf probably would have completed his round with the aid of flashlights if the rules allowed it.
“I think I would have liked to finish today, get the round over and done with,” he said. “You don’t have to worry about what is ahead of you, and the morning is easier because you get to sleep in.”
The third round will be completed this morning, to be followed by the final 18 holes.
“It’s just part of the game,” Weiskopf said. “No one can control it. It’s just a matter of safety.”
Aoki, like Weiskopf, appeared to benefit from the rain delay. After opening the round with two bogeys, he moved into contention by tying a Senior Open record with five straight birdies.
He completed 16 holes before darkness interrupted his round.
Weiskopf was standing over a 3-foot putt on No. 1 when thunder and lightning forced a stoppage of play. After waiting 3 hours, 42 minutes for the rain to subside, Weiskopf returned to make the putt.
He moved to 7-under with a birdie on the par-4 fourth, leaving a 4-iron approach a foot from the hole. He then added birdies on Nos. 7, 10 and 13, making putts from 6, 4 and 13 feet.
After his shaky start, Aoki remained 2-over after a par on No. 3. He then reeled off birdies on Nos. 4 through 8, tying the tournament record set in 1985 by Dale Douglass.
“I think the 3-hour suspension made me relax and cool down after the two bogeys,” Aoki said through an interpreter. “That helped.”
Aoki missed a chance at a sixth straight birdie when his 6-foot putt on No. 9 lipped the cup. But he birdied 13 to move into position for his fourth career win on the Senior Tour.
“I have been playing well, hitting the ball solidly the last three, four weeks,” he said.
Raymond Floyd completed his round just before play was stopped, shooting a 3-under 69 for a 5-under 211 total and the clubhouse lead.
Brian Barnes and J.C. Snead finished No. 17 at 5-under when play was suspended. Hale Irwin had the same score through 16 holes and Bob Murphy was 5-under with three holes to go. Jack Nicklaus, riding three straight birdies midway through, concluded his 70 in the dusk and was at 4-under after 54 holes.
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