Rain impacts three events

Friday, August 20, 2004

Free from the burden of trying to make the Ryder Cup team, Stewart Cink looked at ease Thursday on a marathon day at the NEC Invitational that ended with his name atop the leaderboard.

Three days after he was a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup, Cink made five birdies on his first 10 holes on soggy Firestone South in Akron, Ohio, to lead by one shot over Rod Pampling when the rain-delayed first round was suspended by darkness.

"I was playing really well out there," Cink said. "And with these conditions ... it's playing vulnerable."

Steady overnight rain, which got heavier Thursday morning, made the fairways so soft and wet that players were allowed to lift, clean and place their ball for the first time at Firestone since 1997.

The bad news?

With a five-hour delay at the start and another hour late in the afternoon, only 16 players in the 76-man field finished their round. The rest will return at 7:30 a.m. today.

Pampling was 4 under through 12 holes.

Tiger Woods had the lead to himself until he finished with back-to-back bogeys, both times missing 8-foot putts, to fall two shots off the lead. It was hard to tell what made Woods more upset -- ending his long day with bogeys, or having to return today morning to play one hole. He was 3 under through 17.

Woods might need to win this week to remain No. 1 in the world ranking, and Firestone is one of his favorite tracks. He won three straight times, has never finished worse than fifth and has never shot worse than 67 the first round.

PGA champion Vijay Singh only has to finish ahead of Woods this week to become No. 1 for the first time in his career. Singh bogeyed two of the first three holes, then chopped up the trees on the right side of the ninth fairway to make double bogey and shoot 73.

"It's the least thing on my mind," Singh said. "I want to have a good tournament, and then evaluate the ranking at the end of the week."

Ernie Els also has a chance to reach No. 1. He was at 1 under through 11 holes.

Rookie leads PGA eventRookie Roland Thatcher shot a 6-under-par 66 to take the early first-round lead at the rain-delayed Reno-Tahoe Open on Thursday.

Thatcher, in his first season on the PGA Tour after starring at Auburn, birdied his first four holes and six of his first eight in the $3 million tournament.

Mark Wiebe shot a 67 and Corey Pavin was in a group of players another shot back at 68.

Rain and lightning delayed play for more than three hours and was expected to keep much of the 132-player field from completing the first round until today at the 7,472-yard Montreux Golf and Country Club.

Moore moves on at U.S. Am

Danny Green, the oldest player in the field, moved into the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur with a 2-up victory over Spencer Levin on Thursday, and NCAA champion Ryan Moore also advanced by rallying in the final five holes to beat Aron Price 1-up.

Moore, the top-seeded player who also won the U.S. Amateur Public Links, this year, was three down with five holes to play. But Price, an Australian who attends Georgia Southern, finished with two double bogeys and three bogeys at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y., to give away the match.

Albers aces into lead

Kristi Albers turned her day around with one swing. Michelle Wie's round ended when she was barely halfway through.

Albers had a hole-in-one on the 17th and shot a 5-under 67 for a share of the lead with defending champion Hee-Won Han in the rain-delayed opening round of the Wendy's Championship for Children on Thursday in Dublin, Ohio.

A violent storm rocked Tartan Fields Golf Club late in the day after half of the 144-player field had completed the first round. After a delay of 1 hour, 29 minutes, play resumed briefly before a second storm washed out the round.

The remaining 66 players will complete their rounds early Friday, with the second round set to follow.

-- From wire reports

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