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Rain delays start of LPGA Championship

PITTSFORD – Dark skies never lightened here Thursday, forcing the postponement of the first round of the Wegmans LPGA Championship.

A persistent rain left puddles in the fairways and holes filled to the brim with water. After a delay of several hours, the LPGA called the round off about noon, and announced plans to play the first round today, starting at 7:15 a.m., the second round Saturday and the final 36 holes Sunday — weather permitting, of course.

“We went as long as we could and it never stopped,” said Susan Witters, an LPGA rules official. “It’s Rochester, and everybody’s been through this dance before. I’ve seen this golf course with the help from superintendent Rick Slattery and his crew get in some amazing shape.”

A half-inch of rain had fallen by 9 a.m., a total that more than doubled as the day went on.

The forecast for today is dire – a 60 percent chance of rain throughout the day. Things look better over the weekend, with a high temperature of 78 and only a 10 percent chance of rain Sunday. The possibility remains the tournament could continue into Monday.

“I’m not nervous yet. I wish we could have got some golf in today. I certainly hadn’t planned on this, but we still have a lot of time,” Witters said. “It just gets better going out with Sunday, where we need a long day, that’s our best forecast.”

Predictably, players took the delay in stride.

“We’re golfers. We deal with rain delays all the time,” said Stacy Lewis, the world’s second-ranked player. “So you just have to stay patient with it and when you have an opportunity to play, just be ready to go and hopefully your golf swing can stay in a rhythm.”

Brittany Lang planned to put her free time to use by trying on wedding dresses.

Lang got engaged last month during a Tour stop in Dallas. Her wedding party features fellow pros Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome, Katie Futcher and Angela Stafford.

“This week on Monday, Paula texted me: ‘I saw a David’s Bridal. We’re going,’ ” Lang said. “So it’s good that we have this afternoon to go do that.”

The biggest question in regards to the course is what the wet weather will mean for the rough, which measures an inch in the first cut, five inches in the second cut and up to seven inches on the rest of the course.

“This amount of rain with that rough is going to be extremely difficult,” Lang said. “It’s going to play longer. The course isn’t overly long, so that’s really not too much of a factor, but that rough is going to get thicker, and being wet, it’s so hard to hit out of wet rough like that. I mean, it’s nearly impossible.”

Paige McKenzie, though, chose to look at the glass as half full – of rain water.

“It’s actually a little bit better because it’s easier to hit fairways when they don’t bounce out. The firmer the fairways are, the more likely they’re going to run through into the rough. So in reality, you almost have a better chance of hitting the fairways the softer it is,” she said. “It’s going to make it longer.”

McKenzie said the rough at Locust Hill is as long as she’s ever seen it.

“It’s always healthy, but it’s like Sunday rough on Tuesday, so it’ll be interesting not having cut it what it’s going to look like on Sunday with this kind of moisture and if it’s going to continue to grow the next four days.”

Two weeks ago, the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic was hampered by heavy rains and flooding, and last week at the ShopRite LPGA Classic players dealt with high winds.

“A day like today you just can’t over think,” Wendy Ward said. “They happen. Unfortunately, they’ve been happening a little bit more often than we’d probably like them out here on Tour. But, you know, you gotta relax and just kind of roll with it. It’s not something you can control, and 18 years on Tour, I’m not going to run out there to the driving range any time soon.”