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Friday, 9 August, 2002, 17:47 GMT 18:47 UK
Lawrie wades ahead
The flooded 18th green of the Wentwood Hills course at Celtic Manor
Rain interrupted play during the second round
Former Open champion Paul Lawrie had an unwelcome sense of deja vu as bad weather again severely disrupted the Wales Open at the Celtic Manor Resort.

Lawrie was runner-up last year after a sudden-death play-off with Daren Lee and Paul McGinley, the Irishman triumphing on the fifth extra hole after the event was reduced to 36 holes by torrential rain.

Prospects briefly looked brighter when the first round was completed on schedule despite the arrival of yet more rain on the Wentwood Hills course, Lawrie carding a 67 to be two off the lead.

But a combination of mist, rain and then lightning meant three long delays on the second day before play was eventually called off with 72 of the 150-strong field still to start their next rounds.

Play is scheduled to restart at 0730 BST on Saturday.

Lawrie was among the scheduled early starters on Friday, but only six players had completed the first hole before low-lying mist on the par-five second reduced visibility to a few yards and forced play to be suspended.

Bradley Dredge in action at Celtic Manor
Bradley Dredge was one of the players not to start his second round

It was eventually able to resume at 0930 BST after a delay of two hours and 10 minutes, but was suspended again at 1045 BST. This time, heavy rain was the problem as it flooded already saturated greens.

It was 1200 BST before play was able to start for a third time, a longer dry spell giving Lawrie enough time to move into the outright lead.

The 33-year-old from Aberdeen, who won the Scottish matchplay title last week, had just struck his opening tee shot at the time of the second suspension, but safely made par on the first two holes.

His first birdie arrived from eight feet at the third, and a hat-trick of birdies from the par-five fifth took him out in 32 and to nine under par.

That was briefly good enough for a two-shot cushion before Australian Richard Green, joint overnight leader with South African James Kingston, birdied the fifth to reduce his deficit.

Lawrie had completed 11 holes before the third, and ultimately final, suspension of play shortly before 1500 BST, this time the threat of lightning in the area forcing the players off the course.

He was left with a six-foot birdie putt on the par five 12th when play was called off.

"I've been waiting nearly three hours to take that putt and I guess I'll get to take it tomorrow morning," said Lawrie. "But it does not bother me, it's part of the job.

"It's been a long day, but I played really well. I holed a 10-footer for par on the first and had pretty much a birdie putt on every green after that."

Only two players completed their rounds, Alex Cejka of Germany and Manchester's Grant Hamerton finishing 13 and 19 over respectively.

The third member of the group, Essex's Mark Davis, retired after five holes when he was 11 over for the tournament.

Tournament director Mike Stewart admitted a 54-hole tournament or Monday finish were now possibilities, but with the USPGA Championship next week, conceded the pressure would be on to finish on Sunday evening.

BBC Five Live's Norman Dabell
"It's double deja vu with the weather here"
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See also:

08 Aug 02 | Golf
07 Aug 02 | Golf
26 Jun 02 | Wales
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29 Sep 01 | Golf
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