Rains hinder Curtis victory

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/g/golfgeneric.jpg' class='caption'> The completion of the Booz Allen Classic and Ben Curtis' long awaited first victory since the 2003 British Open was postponed for yet another day.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:35 IST
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The completion of the Booz Allen Classic and Ben Curtis' long awaited first victory since the 2003 British Open was postponed for yet another day. This set up the US PGA Tour's first Tuesday finish in 26 years. Curtis was on the 17th green on Monday with a seven-stroke lead when play was stopped for the day by the latest of several menacing thunderstorms. If it wasn't for Curtis' stellar play, he's at 22 under and on pace to set a tournament record, the only thing anyone would remember about the tournament is that it took six days to complete, with weather wreaking havoc with the schedule on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. "It's unreal. You wait three years, so I guess I can wait another day," said Curtis. As Curtis spoke, the rain continued to pelt the TPC at Avenel, which has soaked up more than 9 inches of rain in one and a half days. There were small ponds around the 18th green and every sand trap was a mini-lake unto itself. Game to resume The tournament is scheduled to resume at 7.30 am (1130 GMT) on Tuesday, even though more rain is forecast. Still, US PGA Tour rules official Mark Russell is determined to complete the event. Not since the 1980 Tucson Open has the tour finished on a Tuesday. "We've got to play 20 minutes of golf at some point. The round must stand. We've got to complete the round. We'll do everything we can.," said Russell. It seems an appropriate end to a 39-year-old tournament, which is on the ropes for its very existence. Sponsor search The tour plans to move the event to the autumn in 2007, but a months-long search for a new title sponsor has yielded no results. If a sponsor can't be found, the tour's only stop in the Washington area will probably disappear. "If we do go out, it would have been nice to go out on a little higher note,'' said Ben Brundred, chairman of the tournament's board of governors. Even before the weekend weather problems, spectators were few and far between at times because the field was void of big names in the week following the US Open. There were only a handful of spectators braving the delays on Monday. They will be prohibited from the course on Tuesday because the tournament didn't anticipate six days of security arrangements not to mention the fact that the parking lots have become mud pits. On the course, Curtis had a 28-foot putt for par at the 17th hole when the horn sounded to stop play for the last time. He had started the day on the 12th, and got to play for all of 89 minutes, a six-minute spurt in the morning and an 83-minute gap of relative calm weather in the afternoon. "I've never seen it rain so hard. Three inches in three hours, that's insane. On 18, there was a lake in the middle of the green. It's kind of comical in a way," said Curtis. Curtis has set what is bound to be a record for most days leading a tournament. He's been in front since shooting a 62 on Thursday, dispelling any notion that he was a one hit wonder when he won at Royal St George's as a rookie three years ago. On Tuesday, he is set to collect a $900,000 winner's check, even if no one is around to clap when he receives it. "It's going to be sweet, that's for sure. I've worked hard. It's been a long couple of years. It's been frustrating, but I kept my mind in it, kept focused. It feels good the hard work has paid off," he said. Monday's start was twice delayed because of overnight downpours that waterlogged the course. Curtis completed a double-bogey at number 12 ending a streak of 43 bogey-free holes but made birdie at number 16 to go to 22 under and keep his comfortable lead. Billy Andrade, Padraig Harrington, Nick O'Hern and Steve Stricker were tied for second at 15 under. (AP)

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