The Barclays cut to 54 holes due to hurricane

EDISON, New Jersey Fri Aug 26, 2011 2:55pm EDT

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EDISON, New Jersey (Reuters) - The PGA Tour has canceled Sunday's scheduled play at The Barclays and reduced the opening tournament of the FedExCup playoffs to 54 holes due to safety concerns surrounding Hurricane Irene.

The Barclays, the first of four lucrative season-ending events on the U.S. circuit, will now conclude at the end of Saturday's third round at Plainfield Country Club.

Hurricane-fueled storms are expected to hit the area late on Saturday and further saturate a course that is already soggy from more than a foot of rain last week and another drenching on Thursday.

"We weighed all the options available to us, and under normal circumstances, we would obviously prefer to complete 72 holes," PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said in a statement.

"But these aren't normal circumstances. We realize that 'waiting it out' until Hurricane Irene passes and trying to play golf on Monday or Tuesday would only add unnecessary strain to those who will be trying to help the community recover from whatever potential damage this storm causes.

"The safety of the community, our fans, players, sponsor guests, television partners and staff is of the utmost importance."

Tournament director Slugger White said that if the storms arrive earlier than expected on Saturday and they are not able to complete the third round, they would revert to the 36-hole leaderboard to declare a winner and points that players carry over to next week's Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston.

"If we don't get 18 in tomorrow, we will resort back to 36 holes, and the FedEx points would go to that," White said.

The top 100 on the FedExCup points list advance to the Deutsche Bank, with the leading 70 qualifying for the September 15-18 BMW Championship. The top 30 from there comprise the field for the Tour Championship, the playoffs finale.

The overall playoffs points leader hauls in a $10 million bonus.

White said officials were left with no choice.

"With the extreme weather conditions that we have got staring us in the face right now, Sunday obviously is not going to be here," White said.

"We are looking upwards to maybe 10 to 12 inches of rain between Saturday night and Sunday evening. No way we can get out of here Monday and it puts Tuesday out, as well."

The Barclays is the first event on the PGA Tour to be reduced to 54 holes since the 2009 Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

(Writing by Simon Evans in Miami; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)

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