Play resumes at Valhalla

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iol spt aug8 Stenson-Valhalla AP Play resumed at the PGA Championship after heavy rain forced a 45-minute stoppage. Photo by: Mike Groll/AP

Louisville – US co-leader Ryan Palmer opened with a par after play resumed Friday at the PGA Championship after heavy rain forced a 45-minute stoppage that left puddles across storm-drenched Valhalla.

Downpours soaked the 7,548-yard layout as course workers tried to push standing water off greens and cope with water running down hills during the delay.

Palmer and his playing partners, Irishman Shane Lowry and American Bob Sowards, started off in the opening group of the day off the first tee in the teeth of the deluge, part of a storm system projected to dump 1.5 inches of rain on the area by nightfall.

Palmer hit two shots, reached the green and play was stopped. Once play resumed, Palmer run a 24-foot birdie attempt three feet past the cup and tapped in for par.

That left the 37-year-old American, seeking his first title since 2010, still on six-under alongside Britain's Lee Westwood and Americsan Kevin Chappell, who both had afternoon tee times booked in the second round.

All three fired 65 Thursday for a one-stroke edge on a pack that includes world number one Rory McIlroy, the reigning British Open champion who expected rain to ease already favorable conditions.

“The course is soft anyway,” McIlroy said. “It was very receptive already.”

McIlroy, seeking his fourth major title, was set for a morning start alongside the year's other major winners, US Open champion Martin Kaymer of Germany and American Bubba Watson, who won his second Masters in three seasons in April.

Tiger Woods, a 14-time major champion chasing the all-time record 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus, was also set to tee off in the afternoon. But after opening on 74th to share 109th, three strokes beyond the projected cut line, he was simply fighting to reach the final rounds.

Westwood, with no trophies to show for eight career top-three finishes in majors, birdied his final four holes Thursday to grab a share of the lead, dropping a 40-foot birdie at the ninth to complete his run to the top.

McIlroy was level for second on 66 with 2013 PGA Championship runner-up Jim Furyk, Italy's Edoardo Molinari, England's Chris Wood and Sweden's Henrik Stenson.

Sergio Garcia, a runner-up to McIlroy at the British Open and WGC event, was on 70 and set for a morning start on the back nine just ahead of McIlroy.

Garcia is among a handful of the players with the most major starts without a victory.

Colin Montgomerie, who started on 70 after a Senior PGA Championship victory booked him a spot in the field at age 51, has made 71 prior major starts without a win.

Westwood has been in 66 prior majors without a triumph while Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez is on 65 such starts, one more than Garcia. – Sapa-AFP

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