FORT WORTH, Texas — Scott Verplank set himself up for the chance at a rare Texas two-step on the PGA Tour.
Playing through periodic rain showers, Verplank had five birdies in 13 holes Saturday before the third round of the drenched Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial was suspended by impending darkness and more rain.
Verplank got to 9 under for a share of the lead with Rory Sabbatini, Pat Perez, Kevin Na, Arron Oberholser and Ben Curtis. Sabbatini had seven birdies and a bogey through 12 holes.
Last month in nearby Irving, Verplank had an emotional victory at the EDS Byron Nelson Championship — the Texan’s first tour win since 2001. The only person to win the Nelson and Colonial in the same year was Ben Hogan in 1946, the first Colonial.
“I wasn’t aware of that,” Verplank said, smiling. “I just heard that it hadn’t happened very often. I didn’t know it was back to Hogan in ‘46. … I’ve got a long way to go. Hopefully, I’ll continue to improve the last round and a half. You never know.”
Beside Hogan, 12 other players have won both Dallas-Fort Worth events. But none of the others have done it in the same year.
The 42-year-old Verplank finally won the Nelson on his 21st try, the first one after Lord Byron died. Verplank grew up in Dallas, got to know Nelson as a teenager and played several rounds of golf with him.
Tim Clark, the 36-hole leader, drove his first tee shot into a bunker after not missing any fairways in the second round. He managed to save par on the par-5 opener, but bogeyed three of the next four holes to fall to 8 under.
Curtis had the lead alone when PGA Tour officials suspended play, but players had the option of finishing their current holes. Curtis had a tap-in bogey at the 394-yard sixth hole after missing a 13-foot par putt.
Clark, Oberholser and Curtis were the last players to tee off — at 5:50 p.m. They have 12 holes to play Sunday before the fourth round can begin.
“It was a tough six holes,” said Oberholser, who got to 11 under with a birdie at No. 2 before bogeys on the two of the next three holes.
None of the 70 players who made the 36-hole cut completed their third rounds. Everybody had at least three more holes.
Tournament director Mark Russell of the PGA Tour said the course was “totally saturated” after nearly 2 inches of rain in a 24-hour period.
PGA Tour officials were still hopeful of getting through 72 holes Sunday, but with more rain in the forecast overnight, that was a shaky proposition.
“If we get what we got this morning, we will have a major problem,” Russell said. “The course can’t take much more (rain) at all. … It was on the verge of unplayable in that last rain.”
On Verplank’s drive at No. 14, just before play was stopped, he hit the ball in a puddle in the fairway. The only legal drop would have been in the rough, so Verplank hit the ball from where it landed, and his second shot wound up in a greenside bunker. He faces a 10-foot par putt when the third round resumes.
“I wish we had quit a hole earlier,” Verplank said.
Things have been out of whack since two weather delays during the first round Thursday, when an afternoon thunderstorm flooded the course and play never resumed for half of the original 114-player field.
The second round was finally completed and the 36-hole cut made Saturday afternoon when 24 players managed to finish after the scheduled resumption was delayed 5 1/2 hours by more rain.
Clark also didn’t miss a green in his second round, but from 100 yards in the middle of the fairway at No. 2 Saturday hit over the green and bogeyed. That was the same hole that Oberholser hit his tee shot into the right rough, but his pitch to 4 inches for an easy birdie.
Oberholser, whose only victory came at Pebble Beach in 2006, bogeyed Nos. 3 and 5, but was tied for the lead at the end of the day.
“I feel lucky. I’m a little frustrated at myself for not being able to at least hold on at 10 under,” he said. “If it’s your time and the golf gods want you to put on a really cute-looking coat, it’s your time. That’s for them to decide. I’m going to do the best I can.”
But there’s at least 30 holes — and maybe more than a day — to go before anybody can be fitted for the winner’s plaid jacket.
Notes: For the first time in the history of Colonial, the longest-serving continuos host of PGA Tour event, the cut was under par. Only twice in 61 events had it been even-par — in 1987 and 1997. There were 70 players who made the cut at 1-under 139. … Ted Purdy’s approach at the 563-yard first hole went into a greenside bunker and submerged in standing water. Purdy got relief from the water, then blasted his shot inside 2 feet for a birdie. … After a record 63 rounds under par in the first round, there were 64 more in the second.