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Weather delay brings some good, bad at Transitions Championship

PALM HARBOR — A line of thunderstorms that swept through the area Sunday morning during the final round of the Transitions Championship halted play for three hours, 43 minutes after most of the field had teed off at Innisbrook's Copperhead Course.

When the golfers returned, they found conditions a bit more manageable.

The fairways remained relatively unchanged, and the greens, which were firm all week, were more forgiving.

"The greens were softer," said Justin Leonard, who tied for 20th. "A little bit slower as well."

But wind gusts near 40 mph increased the difficulty after the long delay.

"It was really windy at the start, but then the winds laid down a bit," said Charles Howell, who tied for 28th. "And the wind direction was a little different (Sunday)."

There's no secret to managing a lengthy weather delay other than eating and trying to get some rest, Howell said.

"Honestly, you're just sitting there waiting because you don't know when you're going to get back out," he said. "You don't know what the weather's going to do. … It's not very fun."

Better result for Heintz: Dunedin resident Bob Heintz had a successful tournament, shooting par 284 and tying for 41st, especially considering the Countryside High graduate had not made it into the weekend at a tournament this year.

Heintz has played four times on the Nationwide Tour in 2010 and was a Monday qualifier for the Transitions Championship.

"I needed it for my confidence because I've been 0-for-4 on the Nationwide Tour this year and haven't made any money," Heintz said. "So, for me to get in here was nice, but really just making it into the event wasn't good enough."

Heintz was even for the final round through five holes before the weather delay forced him back to the clubhouse. When Heintz returned, he wasn't nearly as sharp, finishing the round with 3-over 74.

"I lost confidence in my putter after the delay for some reason," said Heintz, who won $19,980 for tying for 41st. "I hit some positive putts before it, and then when I came out and it was kind of blustery and I wasn't sure about the speed of the greens, I putted just awful the rest of the way. That really hurts, like really makes me sick to my stomach because I had a chance to make a little bit of decent money for my family (Sunday) and I didn't quite do that."

Watney charges late: Nick Watney was just happy to play into the weekend after shooting 1-over 143 through the first two rounds and making the cut by a stroke.

So when Watney found himself in contention for the lead at 9 under as he stood on the 16th tee, he decided to go for broke, hoping that birdies on the final three holes might be enough to sneak out of Innisbrook with his third career PGA Tour title.

Those championship thoughts crashed when his approach on the par-4, 475-yard 16th hole found the bunker. Still, shooting 4-under 67 for the round and 10 under for the weekend was a remarkable turnaround.

"Thursday, I was feeling a little lost and Friday actually, too. … And then the weekend, I played great," said Watney, who placed fourth to finish in the top 10 for the third time this year. "This game is a little funny in that way, but I'm very happy with the weekend."

Until his mistake on No. 16, Watney had birdied five out of the previous 10 holes.

"I kind of went at it on No. 16 and end up making a bogey, which was the end of my winning hopes," he said. "I made the cut by a shot, so to even have that thought late on Sunday was a good thing."

Weather delay brings some good, bad at Transitions Championship 03/21/10 [Last modified: Sunday, March 21, 2010 10:18pm]
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