The question is not so much if Fred Couples, who had already made seven birdies in 11 holes, will eclipse the course record of 62 at rain-softened Fox Chapel Golf Club when he returns today to complete the second round of the Constellation Senior Players Championship.
Nor is the concern if John Huston, the first-round leader who ended his day with a holed shot for eagle, will go on one of his binges when he returns at 8 a.m. to finish the final three holes of his second round.
Right now, the biggest issue facing the 66 players who were still on the course Friday when play was suspended because of heavy rain -- and the 15 who were fortunate to complete their second round -- is just how long it will take for the 72-hole tournament to be completed.
With more rain forecast for the weekend, it's possible that the winner of the Champions Tour's third major won't be crowned until Monday, or possibly Tuesday. A major tournament cannot be reduced to 54 holes.
"I think we're right back to square one," said Brian Claar, the Champions Tour's vice president of rules/competition. "We don't need any more rain. So we need to just get lucky."
An afternoon storm that dumped a half-inch of rain in 30 minutes Friday caused creeks to overflow, bunkers to wash out and fairways to flood. That forced tournament officials to suspend play for the day, even before another storm pounded the course some more.
That was about the only thing that could slow Couples, who had made seven birdies and no bogeys in his first 11 holes and was at 11 under for the tournament, two shots ahead of Huston.
Jeff Hart, a non-winner in two limited seasons on the Champions Tour, was one of 15 players who finished and is the clubhouse leader at 7-under 133 after a second-round 65 -- his best since joining the tour.
"The course I think will be -- I don't know the right word -- wet," said Couples, the 1992 Masters champion. "Not sloppy, but wet. But it's still good. I felt like the pins were harder [Thursday] than [Friday]. I only played 11 holes, but some of them were easier."
Even if they weren't, Couples made them appear that way. When play was suspended, he had just finished a run of six birdies in eight holes, including three in a row. When he returns this morning, he has a 60-foot putt for birdie waiting for him at the par-3 third hole.
"It's probably going to have about 30 feet of break when I go out there," Couples said. "So, if I two-putt that, I'll be very, very happy."
Last year, Couples made eight birdies in the second round and was the 36-hole leader at 11-under 129. He is headed in that direction -- and probably better -- after making 13 birdies in 29 holes at Fox Chapel.
Especially because the players are allowed to lift, clean and place their ball in the soggy fairways.
"You're teeing the ball up every shot," Couples said. "So, to be honest, you're not hitting out of casual water. You're hitting off of clean, good lies. So that's not the problem for us. The problem is the stopping and starting."
That is always a problem for a player with a bad back, and, typically, that person is Couples, who had that problem a year ago at Fox Chapel. This time, though, it's Huston, who is playing for the second week in a row after missing nearly three months because of a back injury.
But Huston said he is fine, and that is apparent after he put up four more birdies and an eagle in 15 holes before play was suspended. Right before the siren sounded, Huston holed a sand wedge on the fly from 100 yards in the right rough for eagle at the par-4 15th -- his second eagle in as many days.
"I feel pretty good," Huston said. "Not quite as good as [Thursday], but I think the early start had more to do with that. But once I got going, I felt pretty good."
Hart, 53, took advantage of the soft conditions to hit all 14 fairways and make five birdies on the front, seven overall. For now, that is good for the clubhouse lead.
But, with Couples on the prowl, that distinction is likely to be short-lived.
"It was one of those days where it was kind of easy and it seemed like every hole I was putting for birdie," Hart said. "I guess I was in the so-called zone they talk about."
He wasn't referring to the soak zone.
Gerry Dulac: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @gerrydulac. First Published June 29, 2013 4:00 AM