EDISON, N.J., Aug. 26 (UPI) -- Defending champion Matt Kuchar charged into the lead Friday at The Barclays, an event reduced to 54 holes by the threat of a hurricane.
The first tournament of the PGA Tour's playoff series became at least a partial victim of Hurricane Irene, which was expected to rip through the New York metropolitan area Sunday.
The threat of high winds and torrents of rain left tour officials with no choice but to limit the event to three rounds. With the hurricane's outer bands due to reach the Plainfield Country Club course Saturday, the players who made the cut will be sent off in threesomes from both the first and 10th tees beginning at 7 a.m. EDT.
If that attempt to beat the weather fails and the third round cannot be completed Saturday, the 36-hole scores will be deemed the final results. That would make Kuchar the winner of this tournament for the second year in a row and send him to the top of the FedEx Cup points standings.
Kuchar completed his rain-delayed first round early Friday, posting an 8-under 63, and then shot a 65 in the second round.
His 14-under 128 total gave him a one-shot lead over Dustin Johnson and Vijay Singh. Jonathan Byrd was alone in fourth at 131 while those tied for fifth at 132 included Justin Rose, Aaron Baddeley, Padraig Harrington and Charley Hoffman.
William McGirt, who came into the tournament in 125th and last place on the points list, was at 133 along with Adam Scott.
The 100 top point earners at the end of this tournament will move on to the second of the four playoff events, which will be played next week in suburban Boston.
Both Ernie Els and Ian Poulter will go into the third round outside the leading 100. If Saturday's play is wiped out, they will be eliminated from the playoffs.
Kuchar moved to the top of the points standings by winning this event last year and still held the lead heading into the season-ending Tour Championship. He struggled that week, however, and Jim Furyk rallied from 12th place to win the tournament along with the FedEx Cup and the $10 million first prize that goes with it.
Nick Watney, who held the points lead coming into this week, had a 136 total after two rounds.
Among those missing the cut and falling out of the Top 100, thus ending their hopes for the title, were Rod Pampling, Stuart Appleby and Tim Herron.