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Tiger remains in share of the lead with Friday's play rained off at Japan's Zozo Championship

Round two will be played on Saturday, with round three set to overlap into Sunday.

The ninth hole at Narashino country club in Inzai.
The ninth hole at Narashino country club in Inzai.
Image: Lee Jin-man

THE SECOND ROUND of the US PGA Tour’s inaugural Zozo Championship in Japan was postponed early this morning because of heavy rain with Tiger Woods and Gary Woodland leading the 78-player event.

Officials made the decision half an hour before the scheduled 7am start after overnight showers turned heavy with forecasts of up to 130mm rain falling over the next 24 hours at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club.

The second round will now be played on Saturday, teeing off with a 6:30am start time (22.30, Friday, Irish time) followed by the third round.

“The golf course has already taken on four-tenths of an inch of rain, so it has actually reached the point of saturation and it’s become unplayable,” said Gary Young, US PGA Tour vice-president of rules and competitions.

“With more rain in the forecast and three to five inches of rain (75mm to 130mm) for the day, we thought the right decision was to call (off) play.”

Golfers will stay in the same threeball groupings for the third round, which will begin immediately after completion of the second round, and continue until dusk Saturday at around 5:30pm.

“In our planning, that should leave us with approximately two hours of golf to complete on Sunday morning,” Young added.

The groups will be re-formed for Sunday’s fourth round, with leaders going out last at around 9am (midnight Irish time) if there are no further delays.

japan-golf-zozo-championship Groundmen tend to the seventh green. Source: Lee Jin-man

“That should have us completing play somewhere around 4pm (7am in Ireland) and leave us a bit of room for a playoff,” said Young.

But PGA Tour meteorologist Stewart Williams said rain could return Sunday, possibly forcing an extra day. “If we’re not able to complete play by Sunday, we will go into Monday,” Young confirmed.

US Masters champion Woods got off to a terrible start on day one before roaring back with nine birdies in 15 holes to share the lead with US Open champion Woodland.

Three over after three holes, Woods stormed back in stunning fashion for a six-under round of 64 and already had one eye on the weather and the possibility of extended play Saturday and Sunday.

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japan-golf-zozo-championship Staff at the event make their way to shelter. Source: Lee Jin-man

“We’re going to have a long, long weekend of a lot of golf. Hopefully I can keep it going,” said the 15-time major winner.

The American duo will head into the delayed second-round with a one-shot lead over home favourite Hideki Matsuyama.

Woods’s 64 was the lowest season-opening round of his long career and came as the 43-year-old chases an 82nd US PGA Tour victory to tie the all-time record held by Sam Snead.

Meanwhile Graeme McDowell withdrew after slumping to a first round 11-over par 81 on Thursday. The 2010 US Open winner did not a give a reason for pulling out, but had been battling a wrist injury earlier this season. Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy will hope to improve on respective opening rounds of +1 and +2. 

The Zozo Championship offers a $9.75 (€8.77) million prize pot as the middle leg of the Tour’s new megabucks Asian swing. It began last week at the $9.75 million CJ Cup in South Korea, won by Justin Thomas, and concludes at next week’s $10.25 million WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

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AFP

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