Singapore: Spain`s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano stormed into a three-shot lead at the Singapore Open on Saturday before a tropical downpour in the afternoon forced organisers to abandon play and reduce the event to 54 holes.
The Spaniard returned early in the morning to complete his second round following a previous weather delay on Friday and shot a stunning 10-under par 61 to reach 15-under for the co-sanctioned European and Asian Tour event after 36 holes.
Playing the easier Tanjong Course at the USD 6 million event split over two layouts at the Sentosa Golf Club, the 31-year-old finished the final nine holes of his round in five-under par.
The first few flights were then able to complete the opening holes of their third rounds before a weather warning suspended play and a subsequent torrential downpour soaked the course, making further action impossible.
"We will not have any further play today due to the prevalent weather conditions," European Tour tournament director Mike Stewart told reporters at a hastily arranged news conference as rain lashed against the media centre roof.
"We`ve had a lot of rain but the biggest danger has been the lightning activity in the area that has made it too dangerous to be on the golf course," he added.
"We`ve taken the decision to have no further play today.”
"We will bring the players back at 7.30 a.m (on Sunday) for a restart to the third round, which will then be the final round. So the event has been effectively reduced to 54 holes."
Fernandez-Castano was one of 69 players required to return early on Saturday but once he tapped in a short birdie putt on the 10th to close within one shot of the lead, there was no stopping his charge to the top of the standings.
The Spaniard`s 61 would normally be a course record for the tournament but seasonal wet weather before the event led organisers to adopt "lift, clean and place" rules to protect the courses over the four days.
"I am thrilled... You don`t shoot 10-under very often," Fernandez-Castano said.
"You don`t really know how the suspensions are going to affect you but I was lucky because I hadn`t teed off before yesterday`s thunderstorm.”
"I took my time. I took it easy and started well with three birdies. It was great and then I had a good start again this morning.”
"To play well you need to hole putts and that is what I did."
Italy`s Edoardo Molinari also returned on Saturday morning and the joint overnight leader from the first round joined Briton James Morrison in a tie for second place on 12-under par after the Ryder Cup player completed a three-under 68.
Molinari`s score was posted on the more difficult Serapong Course, the signature layout that will be used for the final round, and after he birdied the par-four 12th following his resumption, the Italian parred the final six holes.
"It is a bit of a shootout and you want to get off to a good start," Molinari said of the reduced tournament.
"I think all the pressure is now on Gonzalo. He is three ahead and all of a sudden he has only one round to play. With two rounds, he obviously felt a little less pressure but with only one round to go, you know, it is almost his to lose.”
"We need to play well to catch him."
Filipino Juvic Pagunsan is alone in fourth place on 10-under for the tournament, one ahead of Dane Anders Hansen, Northern Irishman Michael Hoey and New Zealander Danny Lee.
Briton Justin Rose and South Korea`s Y.E. Yang are among a group of five players sharing a tie for eighth place on eight-under par.
Tournament drawcard Phil Mickelson had an eventful morning, the American reeling off four birdies in five holes to reach six-under before an ugly double-bogey seven on the 18th left him one stroke above the cut line and 11 off the pace.
"I did not have a bogey all day and tried to get aggressive on 18 and took a risk but hit a driver (off the fairway) into the water," the 41-year-old lamented.
"But what upset me more was that I took a wedge after I took a drop and it spun back 90 feet into the water... I do not understand that. That was frustrating."