ORLANDO, Fla. — Tiger Woods looked ready for a return to the top of the golf world Sunday. The fickle weather of Central Florida had other ideas.
A powerful thunderstorm ripped through Bay Hill, halting the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational and delaying it until this morning after Woods had completed only two holes.
When play resumes, scheduled to at 7 a.m., Woods will be on the third tee with a three-shot lead over several players. If he can hold onto that lead for the final 16 holes, he'll rise to No. 1 in the world golf rankings for the first time since October 2010.
"At least we got a little activity in today," Woods said, "so we're not completely stagnant."
There wasn't much golf played, but it certainly was an eventful and strange day.
With the skies darkening, Woods made birdie at No. 2 to get to 12-under for the tournament. But moments later, lightning flashed across the sky. Thousands of fans following Woods groaned when the horn sounded at 2:03 p.m., suspending play.
Within minutes, a storm packing winds of more than 60 mph was battering the course and knocking out power. Players and media retreated to the safety of a dark clubhouse, where Ian Poulter was seen wandering the hallways using his phone as a flashlight.
By 4:30 p.m., the sun was out, but play had been scrubbed for the day. Bunkers were washed out, puddles enveloped fairways and television cameras had come tumbling down. Work would be need to be done until sunset to prepare the course, and make sure the tournament structures still were safe.
The storm didn't catch the tournament completely off guard: On Saturday night, PGA Tour officials discussed moving up tee times to beat the weather. Instead, they opted to play as scheduled, optimizing NBC's live television window.
"If we played early, it was going to be a tape-delay situation," said Mark Russell, the PGA Tour's vice president of rules and competitions. "People were going to know who won before it came on television, so it defeats our television partners. They wanted to take a chance."
They gambled that the storm would miss. It did not.
"We made a collective decision," tournament director Scott Wellington said. "And it was unfortunate that it went the wrong way."
At Carlsbad, Calif., Beatrtiz Recari made an 18-foot birdie putt from the fringe on the second hole of a playoff with I.K. Kim to win the Kia Classic.
After Recari and Kim three-putted No. 18 both in regulation and on the first playoff hole, Recari ended it for her first victory since her rookie season of 2010. The 25-year-old Spaniard raised both arms in the air and later wiped away tears.
Recari, who brought a two-stroke lead into the day, had a chance to win in regulation. But, like Kim in the twosome ahead of her, she three-putted the par-4 18th. Recari closed with a 2-over 74 to match Kim at 9 under at Aviara. Kim shot a 71.
Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic
At Saucier, Miss., Michael Allen rallied to win the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic for his fourth Champions Tour title, shooting a 5-under 67 to leapfrog a crowded leaderboard.
Allen started the day two shots behind the leaders, but made five birdies on the front nine to vault into the lead. The 54-year-old navigated windy conditions at Fallen Oak to finish a stroke ahead of Bernhard Langer, who was one of four players who shared the second-round lead.
Allen missed a short putt for par on 18 and had to settle for a bogey, briefly falling into a tie with Langer at 11 under. But Langer made a bogey minutes later on 16, and couldn't make up the stroke on the final two holes.
At Broussard, La., Edward Loar won the Louisiana Open for his second Web.com Tour title, closing with a 2-under 69 in windy conditions for a two-stroke victory over Morgan Hoffmann.
Loar, the 35-year-old former Oklahoma State player who also won the tour's 2012 Panama Claro Championship, finished at 17-under 267 on the Le Triomphe course. He earned $99,000 to take the money lead with $164,684.
At Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat won the rain-shortened Malaysian Open, shooting a 2-under 70 in the third round for a one-stroke victory over Italy's Eduardo Molinari.