- The Washington Times - Monday, May 28, 2001

The weather-plagued fourth round of the Kemper Open seemed to keep players, caddies, spectators and volunteers seeking shelter every half-hour yesterday at the TPC at Avenel in Potomac.

The 2001 Kemper, which PGA Tour veteran and Maryland-native Fred Funk called an "unbelievably long tournament," will extend into today. It will be the fourth Tour event this year that will be completed on Monday.

After inclement weather caused the second round not to be completed until 4:30 Saturday afternoon, the Tour hoped to finish the tournament with 36 holes yesterday.

Everything went according to plan as the third round was completed on time, the sun came out and the fourth round began. However, a storm caused a delay from 2:37 to 4:33, and another passing downpour caused play to be suspended for 14 minutes until 5:40. The final weather system, which featured a threat of a tornado, caused a stoppage at 6:42 and forced the tournament to wait until 9 a.m. today to resume.

The last Tour event to end a day late was the WorldCom Classic in Hilton Head Island, S.C., on April 16. Jose Coceres defeated Billy Mayfair in a playoff. The last tournament this year to force more than two players to return to the course on Monday was the Players Championship, when nearly half the field came back to serve as fodder for Tiger Woods, who won by a stroke.

Just two threesomes were able to complete their rounds yesterday. A third, the trio of Donnie Hammond, Spike McRoy and Greg Chalmers, was ready to putt on the 18th green when the final horn sounded to suspend play.

"It's out of our hands," said McRoy, who was in a fourth-place tie at 11 under and faced a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole. "[The tour officials] know what's safest for us so let them make the call. I've been out here four years and they've been out here 40, so they know what is best for us."

Hammond, a native of Frederick, Md., wasn't as diplomatic about having to wait more than 14 hours to putt out.

"After taking the first break, I thought it was yesterday again," Hammond said. "That's the way things have been going this week."

The Monday finish will cause plenty of travel problems for most players, especially those scheduled to play in the more prestigious Memorial in Dublin, Ohio, later this week. Some players are not expected to return for today's final round.

"Everybody has a schedule to keep and outings to go to," said Loren Roberts, who stood at 2 under and planned to return today. "I was supposed to go on vacation with my family to Sea Island, Georgia. They'll just have to go down there without me, and I'll have to try and see if I can get a flight out [Monday] and meet them. But with a 9 o'clock start I think it's going to be impossible."

Hoch hurt by fishing

Scott Hoch was one of the few players to finish his round yesterday and was the leader in the clubhouse with a 10 under 274 total. He might have been lower if it hadn't been for deep sea fishing.

Several weeks ago Hoch, the winner in Greensboro, N.C., earlier this year, went to the Bahamas for some tuna and dolphin fishing. The fishing aggravated tendinitis in his left wrist, and he struggled with the injury earlier in the week.

"I've had a problem with my hand this week, and the stopping and starting this week has been tough on it, but it felt better at the end of the week than when I started," he said. "I was about 10 inches away from getting a cortisone shot… . The doctor had the needle in his hand, but I decided not to."

Hoch said he had a cortisone shot in late February and didn't want to start relying on the drug. His decision seems to have paid off; his third-round 66 moved him into contention, and he closed with a 70.

"I left a number of them out there. I hit the ball well. I was pleased with the way I hit. I hit the ball outstanding. I hit some good putts and didn't make it and hit some bad putts, too," Hoch said.

Hoch's check this week should make him the all-time leading money winner in Kemper history with more than $700,000. This should be his eighth top-10 finish in the Kemper since it came to Avenel in 1987.

Howell close to money mark

Tour rookie Charles Howell III, who needs to place 48th or better this week to assure himself of unlimited exemptions on the Tour for the rest of the year, appears to be in good shape. After a third round 71, he was 1 under in his fourth round and tied for 16th place at 7 under overall. He had four holes to complete.

"I'm going to talk about my status and stuff [later]," he said. "I just want to finish and not think about that other stuff right now."

Caddies cause food fight

After a round, children usually ask caddies for balls and gloves of their players, but near the 18th green two caddies may have started a trend. The caddies of Briny Baird and Tom Pernice Jr. emptied their bosses' golf bags and threw bags full of raisins and whole bananas to the clamoring crowd. The children actually fought for the fruit. Now there is a healthy souvenir.

No ticket required today

The final round of play today is free and open to the public. No tickets are necessary. All public parking lots will be open, and the tournament will provide continuous shuttle bus service from the parking lots to the clubhouse.

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