EAST MANATEE -- The longest day in women's golf got even longer after a second weather delay halted the action in the 36-hole U.S. Women's Open sectional Wednesday at the Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club.
Players were forced off the course at 2:34 p.m. due to inclement weather, before returning at 4:04 p.m. to resume the second round.
But play was suspended again just before 7 p.m., and officials deemed the lightning in the area wouldn't go away in time before daylight ran out.
So the plan is for golfers who did not withdraw to return to the course at 8 a.m. Thursday to finish the tournament, which has three qualifying berths up for grabs at the U.S. Women's Open in June.
"It's a real challenge to get two rounds in one day in Florida in late May and in June," Florida State Golf Association rules official Jim Demick said. "In this case where you have just three qualifying spots, naturally you have a lot of people that have other things they need to do and they know they aren't in a position to qualify at this stage, so they withdraw."
Cindy Feng, who lost a playoff in the LPGA Symetra Tour's Guardian Retirement Championship last month at Sara Bay Country Club, fired a 68 in the morning round to take the lead.
Bradenton's Nelly Korda and Orlando's Sandra Changkija posted 69s to occupy the last two qualifying spots following the first round.
Korda qualified last year in West Palm Beach amid similar circumstances.
"Last year, I came back again but for one hole," Korda said. "So it's kind of like the same thing. It's déjà vu."
She said her plan, though, isn't altered by picking up her round on Thursday.
"It doesn't bother me at all," said Korda, who is even on her second round with six holes remaining. "It's like a two-day tournament."
There were some players who did finish their round. Bradenton's Doris Chen, who trained at IMG Academy before recently taking the NCAA individual national title as a member of the USCTrojans, missed a short putt on her final hole to finish with a 2-under par 142 total.
"I wasn't at my best, and I still played fine," Chen said. "I just don't know if that's going to get me in."
Due to the amount of withdrawals, Demick said there will be groups of just one player Thursday. However, those golfers will not play by themselves. They will either resume from their last location with an official or wait for another player.
"In some cases, a player will go to their ball location and let's say it's in the fairway on (No.) 5, and they'll wait until a player tees off on (No.) 5 and joins them," Demick said. "No one will hit a golf shot (Thursday) without a marker with them."