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World’s top golfer in the hunt as weather takes center stage at RBC Heritage

The air horns blew multiple quick blasts as Dustin Johnson stood over one of his final shots Friday.

The weather imposed on the 51st RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing as expected during the second round of the golf tournament Friday, suspending play near lunchtime with afternoon groups yet to tee off. The ensuring three hour, 43 minute delay kept second round play from finishing before dark and means some players will return early Saturday morning.

Shane Lowry maintained his lead at 9 under par through 16 holes of his second round when play was suspended at 7:47 p.m. Saturday. Play is expected to resume at 7:45 a.m. Saturday to complete the second round.

Johnson, the world’s top golfer, is lurking, as are past champions Graeme McDowell and Matt Kuchar. Crowd favorite Jordan Spieth made a move, going out in 4-under 32 after the delay.

He will be 3 under and six shots back when he resumes his second round on No. 13.

After initially backing off when the horn sounded before the weather delay, Johnson was allowed to close out his round on No. 9 — cleaning up a par to finish at 7-under-par 135 after two rounds. First-round leader Lowry made birdie on his first two holes before play was suspended.

As players fled the driving range behind him and spectators lined up to evacuate Harbour Town Golf Links, Johnson gave reporters a brief overview of his second round before seeking cover.

“Luckily we could still play and finish the hole,” Johnson said. “It’s nice to get done, that’s definitely a bonus.”

Spring storms are a regular consideration during South Carolina’s only PGA Tour event. Tournament officials expect to send groups off both sides for the third round Saturday afternoon after the second round ends and to finish the tournament on time Sunday with clear weather in the forecast.

Beaufort resident Mark Anderson was 1 over through nine holes of his second round. He was 3 over for the tournament and outside of the project even-par cut.

Before play stopped for the storms, Emiliano Grillo polished off a 67 to also reach 7 under.

The consensus among some who finished early was that they were happy to be done playing and on the couch while the afternoon wave waited to learn how the schedule would be affected.

The horn sounded to resume play at 4:30 p.m., about half the field returning to finish as much golf as possible. Some took advantage of the damp, cool and breezy conditions after play resumed.

McDowell reached 7 under before consecutive bogeys at 12 and 13 before play was suspended. Trey Mullinax made three front-nine birdies after the delay to move up the leaderboard and is 8 under.

Grillo’s round was punctuated by an albatross on the par-5 fifth hole. His second shot with a hybrid from 254 yards found the cup.

The big shot and a closing birdie helped offset consecutive bogeys to start the round.

“That will definitely fix anybody’s round,” Grillo said.

Officials began removing the tops of skyboxes Friday morning in anticipation of the high wind gusts and the afternoon storm. Spectators were evacuated and the horn blew at 12:48 p.m. stopping play.

Wind whipped the pines and rain started about 1:30 p.m. as reports of tornadoes circulated.

While not having to endure a delay, the early groups battled windy conditions before the storms rolled through.

“It isn’t easy with the winds gusting over 30 (mph); it isn’t easy with the smallest greens we have all year,” said Ian Poulter, who shot a 67 on Friday and is 5 under. “So looking back, I played really solid.”