(Reuters) - Lightning, followed by torrential rain, at Locust Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York on Thursday forced the entire first round of the LPGA Championship to be postponed until Friday.
Organizers hope to complete the opening round on Friday and the second round on Saturday before playing both the third and fourth rounds on Sunday to get the second major of the season back on track.
“The (weather) system we’re in now is 140 miles deep and it’s going to take a good seven hours to get out of here,” Sue Witters, the lead rules official at the LPGA Championship, told reporters.
“Then we should get a good break in the middle of the night, hopefully for the golf course to percolate the rain. Friday morning, the last I was told, is supposed to be scattered and spotty, and then we have a big window.
“Saturday is better and Sunday is no rain at all, so Sunday actually is our best day with the most golf that we’ll have to play.”
More than an inch of continual rain on Thursday morning left the course saturated, giving organizers no chance to get the layout ready for a possible delayed start in the late afternoon.
“Once the threat of lightning left the area about 8:30 am, we could have opened up the practice facilities, but the problem then became the golf course,” said Witter. “We had numerous greens underwater, fairways puddling.
“If it could have stopped raining, we would have had a shot at getting the ground to absorb the rain and getting it playable, squeegeeing the water. There’s no point in squeegeeing when it’s still raining.
“We went as long as we could, and it never stopped, and now it’s coming down even harder. The goal is to get 72 (holes in), and Monday (play) is still on the table.”
American world number two Stacy Lewis said she and her fellow players had been prepared for their patience to be tested to the full by the predicted bad weather.
“Coming into the day everybody knew what the weather was going to be,” Lewis, winner of the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship and the last non-Asian to win a major, told reporters. “We knew it was going to be a long day, long week.
“It always is here. We’re golfers. We deal with rain delays all the time, so you just have to stay patient with it and when you have an opportunity to play, just be ready to go and hopefully your golf swing can stay in a rhythm.
“When you have the opportunity, you just gotta be ready.”
Shanshan Feng is defending her title this week at Locust Hill, having triumphed by two shots last year to become the first person from mainland China to win a major golf championship.
South Korean world number one Inbee Park, winner of this season’s opening major, the Kraft Nabisco, and compatriot Choi Na-yeon, the reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion, are among the other leading contenders assembled at Locust Hill.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue