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Published: Sunday, 6/4/2006

Workin' for a living

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Carl Pettersson leads the
Memorial at 11 under - through 15 third-round holes. Carl Pettersson leads the Memorial at 11 under - through 15 third-round holes.
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DUBLIN, Ohio - It's not like they have to strap a light to their hard hats and travel down into a mine shaft, but the Memorial Tournament is turning into real work for the PGA Tour golfers.

For the third straight day, a round was not completed yesterday, this time because of threatening weather that moved into the Columbus area just before 8 p.m.

So consider Woody Austin's plight.

He was lining up a birdie putt from the fringe, maybe 16 feet behind the cup on the 18th hole. And the horn sounded.

Now he has to be in position at 7 this morning to finish the third round.

He would then have to wait around for more than six hours to tee off in one of the last two groups for the final round.

There are no short days at Muirfield Village Golf Club, not during the 2006 version of the Memorial, presented by the Weather Channel.

Carl Pettersson remained the leader by one shot when play was stopped last night. He is 11-under through 15 holes, fresh off a birdie and one stroke ahead of Austin and Zach Johnson, who is 11-under through 16 holes.

Phil Mickelson, who was walking to his tee shot in the 18th fairway when the horn blew, and Adam Scott, who had finished 15 holes, were three shots behind at 8-under and three shots clear of the rest of the field.

Third-round play will resume at 7 this morning. The final round is scheduled to begin at 8:20 in twosomes off the first tee, which would have the leaders going off at about 1:30 p.m.

Before joining the PGA Tour in 2003, Pettersson spent a couple years on the European Tour where bad weather is routine. So this is old hat, right?

"This happens all the time, but to be honest it probably happens more often in American than in Europe because of lightning," Pettersson said. "Europe hardly ever has lightning. It just pours down rain. So we have a ton of delays on the PGA Tour and you just get used to it and deal with it."

True, but it might be hard to deal with in a situation like Austin faces.

Not so oddly enough, Johnson had to do the exact same thing Friday morning, returning to the 18th green for a putt to complete his first round.

Doesn't that tick a player off?

"Well, yeah, especially if you're on 18," Johnson said. "It stinks when you've got to come back early the next morning, regardless of where you're at. I have two holes left, which is a little different, but I was in a rhythm and, obviously, I would have liked to finish."

Johnson was in rhythm to the tune of four straight birdies starting at No. 12 before a par at the 16th left him at 10-under.

We're not sure what the Korean word is for "stinks" but K.J. Choi would almost certainly agree with Johnson's assessment.

Because of yesterday's double-tee start, Choi was finishing his round on No. 9. His playing partners, David Duval and Jonathan Kaye, had putted out and Choi had just lagged to about four inches when the horn sounded. As he left the green, he pleaded for a "gimme," presumably joking.

Mickelson, the Masters champion, was the story early on yesterday with an eagle via a 53-foot putt at the par-5 seventh hole that gave him a brief share of the lead at 8-under. He fell out a hole later with a bogey.

But he got back to minus-8 with a remarkable flop shot at No. 10. In short rough just off the green and 25 feet from the cup, he took a full-speed swing. But the ball barely got airborne, traveling maybe one yard before settling on the green, tracking, hitting the pin and dropping in for birdie.

"Is that not how you would have played the shot?" said Mickelson, laughing. "I got a lucky break. It might have gone six, seven feet past, but it caught the pin and went in."

He gave that shot and more right back at the par-5 11th when he laid up with his second shot, then saw his third spin back off the face of the green and into a water hazard. The double bogey dropped him to 6-under, but he later rallied to get back in the picture.

"It's fun having a chance after taking a few weeks off and not having been in contention, really, since the Masters," Mickelson said.

"It's nice to get back in contention and feel that nervousness."

Contact Dave Hackenberg at: dhack@theblade.com or 419-724-6398.



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