June 26, 2006

Curtis victory bid on hold at soggy Avenel

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Ben Curtis was on the brink of
victory at the weather-delayed Booz Allen Classic in Potomac,
Maryland when play was suspended for the day following steady
rain on Monday.

Play is set to resume at the TPC Avenel course at 0730
local (1130 GMT) time on Tuesday with six players yet to
complete the closing round.

American Curtis, eight strokes in front after 11 holes when
final-round action was suspended on Sunday because of
lightning, was seven clear with two to play when the siren
sounded for the last time on Monday.

The 2003 British Open champion, chasing his second PGA Tour
title, was at 22 under par with Ireland's Padraig Harrington
one of four players tied for second place.

Harrington closed with a five-under-par 66 to finish at
15-under 269, level with American Billy Andrade, who shot an
eight-birdie 64.

Also at 15 under were Australia's Nick O'Hern, after 17
holes, and American Steve Stricker, the 1996 champion, after

The scheduled resumption of the final round on Monday had
already been put back by three hours after heavy overnight rain
and play was twice halted before being called off for the day.

The weather problems at the Booz Allen Classic also forced
a change in Monday's British Open international qualifier being
held at nearby Congressional Country Club.

The U.S. leg of final international qualifying for the
third major championship of the year has been reduced from 36
holes to 18, with a chance that it may spill over into Tuesday.

Twelve Open spots are on offer from a field of 112 at
Congressional which includes 1995 U.S. PGA champion Steve
Elkington of Australia, Britons Lee Westwood and Justin Rose
and Shigeki Maruyama of Japan.