Originally created 02/28/05

Rain washes out Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am



LUTZ, Fla. - Hale Irwin summed up in three words the frustration of taking three days to play a little more than a round of golf.

"It's a mess," the Champions Tour career victory leader said Sunday after bad weather interrupted play again in the rain-shortened Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am.

The scheduled 54-hole event was reduced to 36 on Saturday, but more than an inch of new rain left puddles on the greens and tees and pushed back completion of the senior event until Monday.

Play at the TPC of Tampa Bay was halted after a little more than an hour.

"I think everybody starts off balance. I don't think there's any way you can go out there with any certainty knowing you're going to play one hole or nine holes," Irwin said. "I think the certainty was we weren't going to play the entire day."

When play resumes Monday, Irwin will have 12 holes to play and Morris Hatalsky's 7-under 135 will be the score to beat.

Hatalsky was one of 22 golfers to finish the second round Saturday. Two of the 76 pros didn't even begin round two until Sunday morning, and 30 remained on the course when play was suspended for the day.

Eighteen players completed the round in the 68 minutes the field played Sunday. Six others withdrew - Mike Hill, J.C. Snead, Lanny Wadkins, Dave Stockton, Jim Colbert and Raymond Floyd.

Irwin, starting on the backside of the course, birdied his last hole Saturday to move to 6 under. He got in three more holes Sunday, making a birdie on No. 13 before losing a stroke with a bogey on the waterlogged No. 15.

Vicente Fernandez also had a birdie and bogey to play his three holes at par and remain 5 under. He was surprised officials tried to play because he felt conditions were worse than Friday, when nearly half the field didn't get onto the course because of lightning and heavy rain.

"I don't know that there is a solution," said Irwin, the winner of last month's Turtle Bay Championship in Hawaii. "We're dealing with mother nature and we're dealing with the unpredictability of that. We know everybody is trying their best to get this tournament concluded. It's frustrating on all fronts."