Sunday 26 February 2017

Harrington in contention as 'Irene' forces early finish

Larry Fine

The PGA Tour has cancelled tomorrow's play at The Barclays, reducing the opening event of the FedExCup play-offs to 54 holes due to safety concerns surrounding Hurricane Irene.

The Barclays, the first of four lucrative season-ending events on the US circuit, will now conclude at the end of today's third round, with Dublin's Padraig Harrington lying on 10-under, four shots off the clubhouse lead of Matt Kuchar after yesterday's second round.

The three-time Major winner enjoyed a 67 to add to his opening-round 65 -- which he also concluded yesterday -- for one of his most successful days in the past few seasons since the Major -- and tournament -- victories dried up.

Graeme McDowell had a 65 yesterday to lie nine shots off Kuchar who leads by one from Dustin Johnson and 48-year-old Vijay Singh who rolled back the years with a superb 64 yesterday.

However, with storms expected to hit the area, a decision was yesterday made to finish the tournament today.

"We weighed all the options available to us, and under normal circumstances we would obviously prefer to complete 72 holes," Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said.

"But these aren't normal circumstances. We realise that 'waiting it out' until Hurricane Irene passes and trying to play golf on Monday or Tuesday would only add unnecessary strain to those who will be trying to help the community recover from whatever damage this storm causes."

Tournament director Slugger White said if the storm arrives earlier than expected today and they are not able to complete the third round, they would revert to the 36-hole leaderboard to declare a winner and points that players carry over to next week's Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston.

The top 100 on the FedExCup points list advance to the Deutsche Bank, with the leading 70 qualifying for the September 15-18 BMW Championship. The top 30 from there comprise the field for the Tour Championship, the play-offs finale. The overall play-offs points leader hauls in a $10m bonus.

The Barclays is the first event on the PGA Tour to be reduced to 54 holes since the 2009 Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

The Barclays,

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