Kuchar in position to defend title
EDISON, N.J. - What once looked to be a long week at The Barclays suddenly has turned into a sprint. Matt Kuchar heard the news from his walking scorer when he reached the eighth green Friday that the PGA Tour's opening playoff event would be reduced to 54 holes because of Hurricane Irene. By then, the defending champion had already left his mark on Plainfield Country Club and closed with a pair of pars for a 6-under 65. That gave Kuchar a one-shot lead over Dustin Johnson and Vijay Singh, and it could loom large. Even now, no one is sure what to expect from Irene. The plan is to start the third and final round this morning and hope to finish before the storm arrives. If the rain shows up early and they can't finish, it will revert to a 36-hole tournament.Johnson missed birdie putts inside 10 feet on his last three holes and still shot 63. Singh, who has gone 67 starts on the PGA Tour since his last win at the BMW Championship in 2008, two-putted for par from 40 feet on his last hole for a 64. Seventy-two players made the cut at 4-under 138, which will make for a quicker third round. It's the first time a FedEx Cup playoff event has been reduced to 54 holes since the series began in 2007, and there was not much choice. Plainfield has received about 10 inches of rain the past two weeks and 10 more were expected Sunday. There also were safety issues. Crews began dismantling electronic scoreboards Friday afternoon and an army of volunteers from the area had to make their own plans to evacuate, if necessary.Kuchar, who won The Barclays last year at Ridgewood, played without a bogey in a Friday round so efficient that his most memorable shot was punching under a tree and onto the green for a two-putt par on the eighth. He finished his first round earlier Friday with a birdie on the 18th for a 63, and he was at 14-under 128 going into the final round. LPGA: Angela Stanford and Ai Miyazato took advantage of soft greens and no wind to share the lead after two rounds of the Canadian Women's Open. Stanford shot a 6-under 66 and Miyazato had a 68 at the tree-lined Hillsdale Golf Club and they were at 11-under 133. Song-Hee Kim was third at 9-under after a 68, with eight players another stroke back, including defending champion Michelle Wie, who shot a 69 on Friday. Paula Creamer was also in the group after a 68. The cut was at 1 under par, tying the tournament record set in 1998 at the Essex Club in Ontario. Eighty of 155 players in this field broke par. Two days of warm weather and rain left the course defenseless and 80 of the 155 players in the field broke par. CHAMPIONS: Russ Cochran shot a 6-under 66 to take a one-stroke lead over Jeff Sluman after the first round of the Boeing Classic. Cochran, the Senior British Open winner last month, had an eagle, five birdies and a bogey at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge. Defending champion Bernhard Langer was two strokes back at 68.