Norman leads Hardee's at 6-under


COAL VALLEY, Ill. -- Greg Norman, trying to make amends for his last showing in Illinois, shot a 6-under-par 64 yesterday before rains suspended first-round play in the $1 million Hardee's Golf Classic.

Play was halted for 75 minutes when a thunderstorm brought heavy rains to the Oakwood Country Club course in late afternoon. It was resumed for 15 minutes, then halted for good, when the course was swept by strong winds and rain. The 45 golfers on the course will resume first-round play this morning.

Norman, who blew a 5-stroke lead with eight holes to go and finished second in the Western Open in July, had six birdies and no bogeys on his 32-32 card over the par-70, 6,741-yard Oakwood Country Club course.

The Aussie, known as the Great White Shark, was one stroke ahead of a group in the clubhouse that included Paul Azinger.

"I told my caddie that I think we are going to be in for a good week," said Norman, who is looking for his first 1991 win after nine PGA victories since 1983. "I feel very happy. My year starts now. Right now I feel like I'm starting to play well."

Most of the leaders played in the morning, before temperatures warmed to an uncomfortable 94 degrees at 3 p.m. Less than two hours later, the first thunderstorm hit the area.

The tournament, which used to be played in July, was switched to September starting last year to avoid competing with the British Open and to lessen the chance of hot weather. But nasty weather has continued to hinder the event.

Azinger said conditions were perfect when he was playing his morning round.

"I drove it unbelieveably well today. I hit my irons solid," said Azinger, whose win at Pebble Beach this year was his seventh on the tour.

Du Maurier Classic

COQUITLAM, British Columbia -- Cool weather and damp conditions didn't prevent Laurie Rinker and Debbie Massey from shooting 67s for the early lead in the final major on the LPGA Tour.

They shot 5-under-par rounds over the hilly Vancouver Golf Club layout that was wet after an overnight rain. The co-leaders were two shots ahead of Dottie Mochrie and Kristi Albers.

Rinker, who hasn't won an LPGA event in five years, birdied three of the first five holes when she started early from the 10th tee. She made a 7-foot birdie putt at 10, another 7-footer at 12 and a twisting 25-footer at 14.

"My confidence is getting higher, and I'm hitting the ball better," Rinker said. "I was fairly steady today. The course played much longer than in the practice round."

Rinker, whose best finish this year was fourth at Toledo, also had another long birdie putt of 18 feet on the fifth hole.

Middle Atlantic PGA Seniors

CENTREVILLE, Va. -- Al Green of Lake Arbor Golf Club made a 25-foot eagle putt on the sixth playoff hole and defeated David Jimenez of Wintergreen Resort for the 40th annual championship at Chantilly National G&CC.; The two were tied at 141 after 36 holes in the 35-man field, were still tied after a three-hole medal playoff, and went to sudden death.

In the 18th-annual Quarter Century championship conducted concurrently, Leo Steinbrecher of Richmond CC registered 146 and had a two-stroke margin on Dick Canney of the host club.

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