1998 Buick Invitational - Friday Notes
It's baaaack ...!! (El Niño)

Play started at 8 o'clock this morning and by 10 a few rain drops hinted what was coming. Play was suspended at 12:05pm when a vicious storm made both courses condition unplayable. By 2pm it was pouring, and at 2:30pm TOUR officials decided to call it the day. Play will resume tomorrow, Saturday, at 9 in the morning. After all players complete the second round tomorrow, the low-70 and ties will start third round play on the South course. El Niño is back in contention.

Only two groups had finished the second round when play was suspended. They were the first two groups teeing off the 1st tee on the North Course (Standly, Fleisher, Verplank, and Blackmar, Stadler, Janzen). The best partial scores for the day were from Skip Kendall, 6-under through 13 holes (tied for 6th place at 7-under); and Billy Mayfair, also with a 6-under through 15 holes (tied for 59th at 2-under), both playing the North Course.

Yesterday leader Davis Love III lost a shot to par through 9 holes, and now shares the lead with "renovated" Tom Kite at 9-under par. Kite started the day at 7-under, bogeyed his second hole (par-3 11th, South Course), came back with a birdie on #17 and and eagle on the par-5 18th (driver, 4-wood, 30-foot putt). Kite underwent laser surgery to correct his vision 15 days ago. No more thick glasses for Tom Kite. "I had been wearing glasses since I was 12", said Kite. "I'm now 20-20. I only need reading glasses, and that's because I'm over 40 (years old)", he said. "I had a ball out there playing in the rain (without glasses). Playing in light rain (wearing glasses) was a struggle", he added. He looks younger, and he's playing younger.

Love, who started on the 1st hole, bogeyed the 5th and then "struggled for par in the rest of the holes", he said. The 4th hole, a 453-yard par-4, played down wind, and he had a wedge for his second shot. But on the 404-yard par-4 5th hole, into the wind, he had a long iron second shot. "On the 7th hole (453 yards into the wind), I hit driver, 1-iron, Bob (Tway) hit also his longest iron, and Payne (Stewart) hit a 3-wood. I came up short of the green", said Love. "Nobody could reach the 9th in two. I had driver, 3-wood, 9-iron". The 9th is a 536-yard par-5 very reachable in two shots under normal conditions. "You had to be careful because you could get "flyers" from the middle of the fairway", added Love. That's how tough the South course was playing.

One shot behind Kite and Love III, at 8-under, are Steve Pate (3-under for the day through 10 holes on the North Course), Robert Damron (4-under for the day also through 10 holes on the North Course), and unknown (until yesterday, that is) Jeff Sanday, who is at 1-over for the day through 8 holes. Sanday signed his first autograph ever yesterday. Eight players are tied for 6th place at 7-under par.

By 3pm rain had stopped and a steady gale was still blowing. If this dry weather prevails overnight, the courses should be playable by morning time. Tomorrow the field, the players, the officials and the public will team up against the unwanted participant, El Niño. Once 36 holes are completed, the entire field will have played both courses, a requirement to be able to finish the tournament within its schedule time.


Second Round Notes

  • Fulton Allem, Chip Beck, Olin Browne, and Donnie Hammond withdrew from the tournament.

  • Saturday's Pro-Am, which was Monday's Pro-Am reschedule, has been cancelled.


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