Weather shortens Ohio Amateur to 54-hole event

CANTON, Ohio - The leader never even showed up at the course.

Corey Richmond, who posted an 8-under 63 before the heavy stuff came down in Tuesday's first round, maintained a three-shot lead without having to leave his hotel on Wednesday while others battled the elements in the 107th Ohio Amateur.

With the threat of heavy rains, rumbling thunder, crackling lightning and dangerous weather peppering Brookside Country Club, tournament officials finally conceded to Mother Nature and shortened the tournament from 72 to 54 holes.

"It's been the theme of the summer," said Jim Popa, executive director of the sponsoring Ohio Golf Association. "It seems like everywhere we go we've battled the weather -- and this week it's gotten the best of us."

With thunderclouds the color of a bad bruise hovering overhead, Popa and the OGA suspended play early in Wednesday's second round. Half of the field hadn't even teed off and the other half was on the course, many not even halfway done.

Those players will return to soggy Brookside Country Club on Thursday morning at 8:30 to complete their rounds. The second wave of 72 players -- keep in mind, half of the field has yet to even tee off in the second round -- will then play starting at 11 a.m.

When everyone has finished the second round, there will be a cut to the low 60 scores and ties. The survivors will return on Friday for the final 18 holes.

It will mark the first time since 1990 at The Sharon Golf Club that the prestigious event hasn't gone a full four rounds.

Warm, humid and dry weather is forecast for both Thursday and Friday.

Richmond, who wasn't scheduled to tee off until late in the afternoon, was getting updates from a friend who drew an earlier tee time on Wednesday. He said he got inclement weather alerts on his phone and was aware he probably wouldn't even have to leave his room.

Now he has a lot of time to kill.

"I'll sit around and watch TV. Hopefully there are some good movies on, I guess," he said with a chuckle.

"Other than that, I don't know. Just stay rested a little bit, work on my putting in the hotel room a little bit."

The course was pummeled by a violent rainstorm after the players hustled away once the day's play was called off. It appeared creeks came to life where there weren't ones before -- in the middle of the ninth green there was a deep flow of water. The practice putting green looked more like a small pond. In low spots, like the valley in the middle of the 10th fairway, it appeared there was a river running through it.

The 21-year-old Richmond, who also had a hole in one in his glittering opening round, is being pursued by 2010 winner Michael Bernard, an Ohio State player from Huber Heights, and Andrew Dorn, a junior at Coastal Carolina from West Chester.

Chase Wilson, a former High Point College player from Zanesville, completed his first round early on Wednesday and finished with a 67. He had just gotten started with his next 18 when the weather hit.

"The conditions were actually good for as wet as the course is," Wilson said. "There's some standing water in spots. But the course is actually standing up well."

That was before the downpour late in the afternoon, however.

Also at 67 was Tyler Light of nearby Massillon, who tied for low amateur in last week's Ohio Open at Westfield Country Club.

Bowling Green graduate Parker Hewit of Westfield Center was at 69, with Dublin's Nathan Clark and Akron's Dan Belden the only other players with subpar rounds.

The entire field was chasing Richmond.

"That 63 out there gives him a little more cushion than I was expecting," said ex-Ohio State player Kevin Grabeman, who was third a year ago and had an opening 72. "We've all got to make adjustments."

The leader acknowledged a shortened tournament made his job easier.

"It's definitely an advantage," Richmond said. "It's just like I played today and I still have a three-shot lead."

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