Weather shortens Merrill Lynch Open

Poor weather and heavy rains at the Santa Maria Golf Club caused Friday’s action at the Merrill Lynch Open to be suspended and one round to be canceled.

The typical 4-day, 72-hole tournament will conclude Saturday after just three rounds, because of an “unplayable” course.

“With a lot of the rain that’s come through here in the past week, it’s made the course really wet and unplayable to a point,” Adams Golf Pro Tour Series Tour Director Tyler Wolford said.

Wolford said the course received nearly five inches of rain on Sunday alone, and more showers arrived Tuesday afternoon. The tournament’s opening round began Wednesday morning and was later rain delayed in the afternoon.

A few more showers Thursday forced two groups to wait until Friday to finish their second rounds. The course was evaluated again Friday morning but still deemed unplayable, leaving the final two groups to finish the second round late Friday afternoon.

The third and final round will begin Saturday morning at 10 a.m. with the final group teeing off at 11:50 a.m.

“The course is still really wet, and we really wanted to give the final round the best conditions that we could get,” Wolford said. “Knowing that the weather will be good (Saturday) and that it really hasn’t rained much or done any raining at all out on the course Friday, our overall game plan was to give the course a full day to rest and let it soak up the water that it has out there.”

Once the final two groups wrapped up their second round, the cut was made at 3-under-par 141. Fifty-one players made the cut, including 49 professionals and two amateurs.

Heading into the final round, Lance Lopez and Bobby Massa are knotted at 13-under 131 on top of the leaderboard. Four other golfers are tied at 11-under 133.

Wolford said the tournament has allowed the lift, clean and place rule in the fairways and the rough, letting golfers clean their balls on certain parts of the course.

“Ideally, that’s not the best option or the best format that you want the players to play,” Wolford said. “Based on what we’ve been seeing with the golf course, to try and make it fair for everybody, that was really the best option we were looking at. I think for the most part, the players understand that they really can’t do much when they’ve got this much rain come through and as wet as the course is.”