Love rides the storm

LIKE the first two rounds, the third round of the New Orleans Classic here was destined to end in darkness before the completion of play. But with the leaders still midway through the front nine yesterday, there was a logjam at the top.

Seven players shared the lead at 10 under par, including Davis Love III, whose struggle to win and thus gain entry to the Masters has been well chronicaled. "Every time I hit a good shot, they yell, `We're going to the Masters'," said Love on Friday. "I don't know where they think they're getting their tickets."

The Welshman Ian Woosnam was just two strokes off the lead after playing the first eight holes in three under par, while the rest of the Europeans stayed far out of contention. Then Woosnam double-bogeyed the ninth to slip to fourth off the lead. Woosnam, who won here in 1991 before he picked up his first Green Jacket that year, was very optimistic following the round of 69.

Given that the first-round leader J L Lewis finished in almost total darkness on Thursday at about 6.30pm, many of the players with late tee times were unhappy with the effects of the weather. With half the field stranded in mid-round and set for a shotgun start yesterday morning, the lead was held by the Canadian Dave Barr, who completed his second round with a 68 for a nine-under-par total, one stroke ahead of Lewis.

Rain played havoc with the practice and playing schedules of those who, like Jose-Maria Olazabal, were feeling anxious about this week's Masters tournament. Olazabal, who missed the cut with rounds of 73 and 71, left the course on Friday night saying: "This was a disaster in terms of preparing to defend the Masters."

Four of the five Europeans in the field were able to complete the second round, while Sandy Lyle, who had opened so encouragingly with a 69 on Thursday, was forced to stop after six holes on Friday night, having birdied the fifth to get to four under par. He struggled yesterday, his four birdies countered by four bogeys for a 72 that left him at three under.

David Feherty, who began the second round so well, with birdies on the first three holes, ended up with a score of one-over 73, for a one-under- par total.

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