EDISON, N.J. —What once looked to be a long week at The Barclays suddenly has turned into a sprint.
Matt Kuchar heard the news from his walking scorer when he reached the eighth green Friday that the PGA Tour's opening playoff event would be reduced to 54 holes today because of Hurricane Irene. By then, the defending champion had already left his mark on Plainfield Country Club with a 6-under 65.
That gave Kuchar a one-shot lead at 14 under over Dustin Johnson and Vijay Singh, and it could loom large.
"The best players generally come out winners after 72, so for me, I feel like the more golf we play, the better my chances," Kuchar said. "But given the situation, I love being on top of the leaderboard with 18 holes to go. Hard to find something to complain about with the situation I'm in. Yeah, I'm quite happy that I've got this opportunity. I just feel like we've got one last round to go."
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Even now, no one is sure what to expect from Irene. The plan is to start the third and final round this morning and hope to finish before the storm arrives. If the rain shows up early and they can't finish, it will revert to a 36-hole tournament.
Johnson missed birdie putts inside 10 feet on his last three holes and still shot 63. Singh, who has gone 67 starts on the PGA Tour since his last win at the BMW Championship in 2008, two-putted for par from 40 feet on his last hole for a 64.
"I'm pretty happy with my position," Singh said. "I would have loved to be in the lead in case we don't play."
It's the first time a FedEx Cup playoff event has been reduced to 54 holes since the series began in 2007, and there was not much choice. Plainfield already had received about 10 inches of rain the past two weeks and 10 more were expected Sunday. There also were safety issues. Crews began dismantling electronic scoreboards Friday afternoon and an army of volunteers from the area had to make their own plans to evacuate, if necessary.