- Associated Press - Saturday, July 9, 2011

INVERNESS, SCOTLAND (AP) - The Scottish Open was reduced to a three-round event after torrential rain overnight and throughout Saturday flooded the Castle Stuart links course at Inverness, wiping out the entire third day’s play.

Organizers worked to restore Castle Stuart to a playable condition following heavy downpours in the Highlands and the unfinished second-round groupings _ which amounted to half the field _ took their positions out on the course late Saturday.

As players were about to restart their rounds more than 24 hours after their last shot, officials decided conditions were still too poor to resume.

“We tried very hard, we were desperate to get out and play … but unfortunately, despite all the efforts of all the guys on the golf course, we just couldn’t get the course playable,” tournament director Mike Stewart said.

With no shot being hit on day three, the leaderboard was unchanged, leaving 2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell in a three-way share of the lead at 11 under with Scottish pair Peter Whiteford and Scott Jamieson. All three players finished their second rounds in dry, still conditions early on Friday.

“I’ve been up in this area for a long time now and we have courtesy-car drivers who are 65 years of age and haven’t seen the likes of this before. None of us have,” former Europe Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie, one of 70 players still to wrap up their second round, said of the conditions.

“This is extreme to say the least. It’s incredible. It’s freak conditions.”

Players will be back out early Sunday to complete their second rounds, with the third and final round to follow, although more rain is expected in the Highlands.

There is the possibility of the tournament spilling over into Monday _ but only to conclude a round, not to start one. The British Open, which is the third major of the year, starts on Thursday at Royal St. George’s in southeast England.

First-round leaders Lee Westwood of England and Mark Tullo of Chile, as well as top-ranked Luke Donald, were still to complete their second rounds. All three were at 7 under when play was stopped early Friday following the second of two stoppages because of thunderstorms and heavy rain.

“It’s a shame for everybody. I’m sure Mike’s doing the best he can but unfortunately he’s not in control of what comes out of the sky,” Westwood said.

Spain’s Jose Manuel Lara was one shot adrift of the trio of leaders, with three players _ Argentina’s Angel Cabrera, Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts and Scotland’s Paul Lawrie _ at 9 under.

Organizers said two spectators sustained broken legs when conditions worsened on Friday.