Published — Sunday 11 November 2012
Last update 11 November 2012 3:37 am
SINGAPORE: Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn had to wait more than 36 hours to tee off in the second round of the rain-soaked Barclays Singapore Open at Sentosa Golf Club. The delay may have done him good.
Bjorn shot a 67 yesterday to move into the lead and held on to a one-stroke advantage over England’s Chris Wood in the third round before play was halted due to darkness.
Tropical downpours caused havoc with the schedule this week, forcing golfers to finish the second round early yesterday and then hurriedly start the third round hours later. Officials are still planning to play 72 holes unless storms cause more delays today.
Bjorn was at 9 under after completing three holes in the third round. South Africa’s George Coetzee was in third place at 7 under, one stroke ahead of Italy’s Francesco Molinari and Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat.
Rory McIlroy was at 4 under overall, five strokes behind the leader. McIlroy started to make a run at the start of the third round with a birdie and an eagle on the par-5 4th hole, but he hit into the water off his tee shot on the sixth and took a double bogey. He was in a tie for 13th after completing nine holes.
“I’ll need to go out and try to make a few birdies in the morning and get myself within a couple shots of the lead, or a few shots of the lead, going into the fourth round — if it ever happens,” McIlroy said. “The more golf we play, the better chance I have of winning.”
Four-time major winner Phil Mickelson barely made the cut after the second round, holing a birdie on the 18th to salvage a 70 for a 133 total through 36 holes.
Stormy weather has caused lengthy delays for the second straight year. A year ago, rain forced organizers to shorten the tournament to 54 holes and a playoff to decide the winner still had to be held Monday morning.
Bjorn made six birdies to shoot a 66 in the first round Thursday, then didn’t get on the course at all Friday because of the rain. The long wait didn’t throw off his rhythm as he put together four more birdies, sinking a 20-foot putt on the par-3 14th for the last, in a bogey-free round.
The 41-year-old Dane captured three tournaments on the European Tour and finished fourth at the British Open last season, but he’s yet to hoist a trophy so far this year.
“This course can very quickly bite you, especially if you don’t drive the ball well. The numbers can run up on this golf course, so you got to stay with what you’re doing,” Bjorn said. “I’ve got two good rounds in the bank, but there’s ways to go.”
Wood and Coetzee were in striking distance of their maiden wins on the European Tour. The two have had 17 top-10 finishes each, but are yet to win a title.
The 24-year-old Wood birdied four of his last five holes to finish his second round with a 65 in the morning and then added another birdie when he started the third round as the sun was setting.
“It’s been a long week, but obviously when you’re in contention that’s where you want to be, so however long it is, I don’t mind,” he said.
McIlroy still has a chance to clinch the European Tour money title this week. A third-place finish would all but assure he’ll finish the year atop the list, no matter how he fares at the Dubai World Championship.
He is trying to emulate Luke Donald’s 2011 feat of winning both the PGA Tour and European money titles in the same season. He’s already clinched the PGA title with more than $8 million in winnings.
His girlfriend, tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, has been waiting out the rain delays with him in Singapore and will travel with him next week to Hong Kong.
“This is her offseason. This is sort of a chance to take a break, but getting up at 5 a.m. to watch me play golf isn’t exactly my idea of a holiday so hopefully after tomorrow or whenever we’re done we can get a couple of days off,” he said.
Mickelson needed some heroics just to make the cut. He got into trouble on the par-5 7th hole in the second round where he carded a double bogey to go to 4 over.
He got two strokes back with a couple of birdies on the back nine, then hit a delicate chip shot between two palm trees from the rough to get on the green on the 18th and sank a 6-footer for another birdie.
“It’s a tough course for me to make birdies,” he said. “I hit the ball really well on the backside to give myself a lot of opportunities, but struggled getting the ball in the hole.”
Troubled two-time major winner John Daly withdrew before play began yesterday, citing fatigue. Daly, who received a sponsor’s invitation to play in the event, was sitting at 11 over through 1 1/2 rounds.