CONOVER, N.C. (AP) – Doug Tewell was one of nine players to complete the first round of the rain-delayed Greater Hickory Classic on Friday and his 2-under 70 got him the clubhouse lead.

Gil Morgan and Don Pooley were one hole from knocking Tewell out of the top spot when plays was to resume Saturday morning. The second round was to immediately follow.

Morgan and Pooley were 4 under through 17 holes when play was stopped after daylong showers eventually overwhelmed the fairways at Rock Barn Golf & Spa.

Keith Fergus (14 holes), John Bland (12 holes) and Wayne Levi (10 holes) were also 4 under when played was called for the day.

Among the finishers, Tewell, the defending champion, was one shot in front of former major league pitcher Rick Rhoden, who’s playing on a sponsor’s exemption, and Tom Jenkins. Bruce Fleisher had a 72.

“This was definitely one of the wettest rounds I’ve played,” said Tewell, who has one top five finish on the Champions Tour this season. “But I can’t complain. This is also one of the better rounds I’ve played recently.”

Six players were 3 under when play was suspended.

“It’s a grind out there in conditions like this,” Pooley said. “I think my caddie went through 10 towels.

“The ball didn’t travel as far, so the course played significantly longer today. I made some long putts, but I missed three putts in the 6-8 foot range that I’m kicking myself over.”

The start of Friday’s opening round was delayed more than 21/2 hours by heavy fog and wet patches on the 7,093-yard course.

While a soft rain greeted the first players to tee off Friday, it picked up considerably a few hours later and remained steady before play was suspended at 3:13 p.m.

“The fairways were accumulating so much water where it was unfair to the players trying to take casual water relief,” tournament director Ben Nelson said. “They were having to go a long way to find a dry spot, and that kind of changes the game a little bit. That’s when we threw in the towel.”

According to tour officials, more than three inches of rain fell on the area since Thursday night, with a decreasing chance of showers forecast through the weekend.

“By (Saturday) afternoon, we should see improving conditions,” Nelson said. “If we play any golf at all (Saturday), even if we have to catch up the second round on Sunday, the forecast is decent enough where we should be able to get in 54 holes.”

AP-ES-10-07-05 1926EDT

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