POTOMAC -- The conditions were more reminiscent of the British Open than the Kemper Open. A cold, hard and persistent rain -- not to mention a nearly two-hour rain delay -- played havoc yesterday with the psyches and scores at Avenel.
The bad weather and long wait prevented the second-round leaders from finishing the third round, and when darkness came last night, journeymen Brad Fabel and Duffy Waldorf shared a soggy lead at 8-under-par. They will be among 10 players to finish their rounds beginning at 9 a.m. today.
Fabel, who has never won in eight years on tour, and Waldorf, who is winless in his six seasons, hold a two-shot lead over two more prominent players, PGA champion John Daly and former British Open champion Mark Calcavecchia. Seven players, including U.S. Open champion Payne Stewart and former Kemper champion Bill Glasson, are in a group of seven at 5-under.
Weather permitting -- and more rain and cool temperatures are expected -- the $1.1 million tournament will conclude late this afternoon or early tonight. First place is worth $198,000.
L Yesterday wasn't a day for getting hot, only very, very wet.
"A day like today, you're just trying not to do anything crazy," said Fabel, who started the day at 8-under and finished 13 holes. "Par is a good score."
Except for Daly, who dressed as if it was sunny and 80 degrees, rainsuits and floppy hats were de rigueur. Or de rigor. It didn't make for smooth swings or low scores. Only 13 of the 62 players who finished broke par. It seemed that most of the field was playing under a yellow caution flag. Gentlemen, hold your positions.
Brian Kamm, who started the round at 3-under, and wound up at 5-under, was the only newcomer on the leader board. But the scores near the top are bunched: 16 players are within four shots of the lead. Former two-time Kemper champion Greg Norman is five shots behind.
"It's not like there was a lot of movement," said Stewart, who started four shots behind at 4-under and finished with a 1-under-par 70. "I told myself, 'Anything around par will keep you in contention.' "
"The course is pretty difficult to begin with, and there are not that many birdies out there," said Waldorf, who had three -- including a 50-footer on No. 13 -- to go along with one bogey through 15 holes.
Every time someone seemed ready to make a charge, a bogey was just around the corner. Fabel and Gilder, who started the day tied for the lead with rookie David Toms and Jay Don Blake at 8-under-par, got to 9-under with birdies at the par-5 sixth hole. But that didn't last, especially for Gilder.
FTC Gilder and Fabel each bogeyed the 461-yard, par-4 seventh hole and stayed there through 10. It was there that Gilder, who hasn't won a tournament since 1983, took double-bogey 5 on the 165-yard par-3. Calcavecchia's score went up and down like an unpredictable stock: a birdie at 2, a double-bogey at 5, a birdie at No. 6, a bogey at 7, a birdie at 11, a bogey at 12.
Blake took the hardest fall. He was even-par for the day through four holes when the rain came, but quickly fell apart after the one-hour, 57-minute delay. Blake double-bogeyed the seventh hole to slip back to 6-under, bogeyed No. 10 to go to 5-under and was at 4-under when play was suspended at 7:24 last night.
Aside from Daly and Kamm, about the only one to make up ground was Waldorf. One of the tour's longest hitters, Waldorf forged a tie for the lead with birdies at No. 13 and 15. He stopped there, and was looking forward to coming back this morning.
"If I make some putts, I can win," said Waldorf, 29, whose best finish was second behind Calcavecchia at this year's Phoenix Open. "I just want to stay close."
Said Fabel, 36, who came in second two years ago at Hartford, "It wouldn't be the end of the world if I didn't [win], but I'd like to win."
(since moving to Congressional CC in 1980, and to TPC-Avenel in 1987)
1980 -- 48-minute delay before 10 a.m. Saturday for rain and thunderstorms.
1981 -- Rain most of first round, with 30-minute delay at 4:46 for lightning; light showers Friday and Saturday.
1982 -- Rain most of Saturday morning, with a two-hour, 10-minute delay beginning at 11:10 a.m.
1983 -- Showers Thursday afternoon.
1984 -- Pro-am delayed three hours (and cut to nine holes) by rain; 82-minute delay Friday afternoon because of torrential rain.
1985 -- Steady rain Friday, but no delay.
-- Hot and humid every day.
1987 -- Rainstorm halted first round at 2:15 p.m., with half the field (78 players) resuming play Friday morning. The result was pushing 50 players back to complete their second rounds early Saturday.
1988 -- Good weather.
1989 -- Hot and humid.
1990 -- Good weather until slight drizzle Sunday, and last groups finished under threatening skies.
1991 -- Hot and humid all week. A 47-minute delay for lightning on Friday; two-hour delay for heavy rain and lightning on Saturday.
1992 -- One-hour, 58-minute rain delay yesterday.