PALM HARBOR — As the wind blew tree limbs and loose trash over Innisbrook's Copperhead Course on Friday, and storm clouds built into what would be a torrential downpour a few hours later, Paul Casey considered himself lucky to be headed to the clubhouse.
"I shot 1 over but it felt like 5 or 6 under," said Casey, who was at 3-under 139 after two rounds of the PODS Championship. "It's nice to get it over with. I'm happy to get in the clubhouse and watch these guys go through what I went through today."
What the golfers went through was a second straight day of inclement weather that halted play at 4:38 p.m. with 71 of them still on the course. They were scheduled to complete their rounds beginning at 7:30 this morning, barring soggy course conditions. After a cut to the top 70 and ties, projected at 1 over, the third round could get under way as early as 11:30 a.m.
Groups of three will start on the first and 10th tees for the third round, and will use the lift, clean and place rule for balls in the fairway.
Jeff Maggert was one of those unable to finish his second round. He completed nine holes and was on his way to a good round when the horn sounded to clear the course. He was 3 under on the front nine and 8 under after 27 holes, three better than Kenny Perry and D.J. Trahan. Perry was through nine holes and Trahan seven.
Billy Mayfair, Lee Janzen, Stuart Appleby, Casey and defending champion Mark Calcavecchia were 3-under 139 after 36 holes. They will wait until the afternoon to tee off for their third round.
Barring a collapse on the back nine, it appears the field will be chasing Maggert. The 19-year PGA Tour veteran from Houston managed to handle the wind for nine holes. He birdied the first, second and fourth and played a bogey-free nine holes.
"Everyone says that because I'm from Texas, I'm a great wind player," Maggert, 44, said. "I grew up in Houston and to be honest we didn't get a lot of wind. I wouldn't say I'm an excellent wind player."
Winds were sustained at 25 mph Friday, with gusts up to 39 mph. It could be just as windy and colder today and Sunday. Maggert said that means
playing smarter is a must.
"The wind is more of a mental thing," he said. "You know you're not going to make seven or eight birdies. You want to play aggressive, but you have to take what the course gives you."
Calcavecchia made his move on Saturday last year. He shot a course record-tying 62 and drew clear of the field before holding on to win by one. He doesn't expect a repeat.
"There's not going to be any 62s out there (today)," he said. "Anything around par is going to be a good score on this course."
While there is a chance of a repeat winner, it will not be the man who won the Honda Classic on Sunday. Ernie Els, after consecutive 73s, was three off the projected cut, likely ending his streak at 13 straight cuts made. Other notables not expected to be around for the weekend: Chris DiMarco (13 over), Davis Love (5 over), Steve Stricker (2 over) and John Daly (16 over).
"I didn't enjoy the last two days," Els said. "I didn't quite have it. Before the rain delay (Thursday), I felt really comfortable. I was actually striking the ball great. Ever since the rain delay I never quite had my rhythm."
With 16 players within five shots of Maggert, and 11 of those with incomplete second rounds, whoever finds a rhythm in the windy conditions could make a move. If Maggert holds on for the 36-hole lead, it will be the 12th time he has done so in his career. He has converted that into a win just once, however, the 1993 Children's Miracle Network Classic.
He is not looking at the leaderboard until at least nine more holes are completed.
"I've only played 27 holes so I have a lot of the tournament in front of me," said Maggert, who has three PGA Tour wins, the last the 2006 FedEx St. Jude Classic. "Even though I have the lead now, there's a lot of golf I have to play. I'm not looking at my position yet."
Rodney Page can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8810.