LAS VEGAS (AP) – Daniel Chopra was the clubhouse leader at 15 under after an 8-under 64, and Charley Hoffman was 17 under with four holes to play when darkness forced the suspension of play Saturday in the third round of the rain-delayed Open.

Hoffman, who began the day at 11 under, had just birdied his 14th hole when play was called. Troy Matteson, also 11 under to start, was 16 under through 12 holes.

Overnight storms that extended into the morning delayed the start by some 3 hours, and the tournament already had fallen behind schedule the previous day.

A group of 22 players, none near the top of the leaderboard, had to complete their second round Saturday before beginning the third. Play was halted for 68 minutes because of lightning on Friday afternoon, and that round couldn’t be completed before dark.

There also will be makeup holes Sunday morning, when Hoffman, Matteson and the rest of the players who didn’t complete the third round tee off early to finish that before they begin the final round.

Bill Haas was at 15 under through 14 holes when play stopped, and Shigeki Maruyama was 15 under through 13.

Chopra’s 8-under third round at TPC Summerlin gave him a 200 total.

Leading the tour in putting this year, he needed just 27 putts during the third round.

He had a nervous commute to the golf course. Because of accidents and flooding on the roads between the Las Vegas strip and Summerlin, Chopra barely made his tee time.

“It took almost two hours,” he said of the 131/2-mile drive from his hotel. “When I got here, I ran to get my shoes on, ran over to the range and hit a couple of shots and headed for the tee.”

Ryuji Imada, who was at 7-under 136 through two rounds, wasn’t so lucky. He also got stuck in traffic and just missed his tee time and was disqualified.

Imada was supposed to be in Chopra’s group, and Chopra was talking to him on the cell phone as he rushed to the course.

“I feel so bad for him. We were on the first fairway and I looked back on the tee and saw him like this,” Chopra said, dropping his head and holding it with both hands.

Chopra was pleased that he won’t have to finish his third round on Sunday morning before beginning the final 18 holes.

“Those two or three holes are so hard to play,” he said. “It’s cold, you’re cold, and the ball’s not going as far.”

AP-ES-10-14-06 2155EDT

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