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Zozo Championship set for Monday finish as Graeme McDowell withdraws in Japan

Graeme McDowell endured a tough opening round in Japan.
Graeme McDowell endured a tough opening round in Japan.
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

Graeme McDowell has withdrawn from the inaugural Zozo Championship, which is set for a Monday finish after torrential rain suspended Friday's play in Japan.

The Portrush man was bottom of the field after struggling during an 11 over par opening round that included two double bogeys and a triple.

Nine shots ahead of his compatriot is Rory McIlroy, who, along with the remainder of the field, will play the rescheduled second round on Saturday morning.

No spectators will be granted access to the Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club due to safety concerns after more than six inches of rain fell at the course on Friday, when no play took place.

The downpour, which was heavier than had been initially forecast, forced the Tour to push the second round back until 9.30am on Saturday morning and therefore extend the tournament to an extra day.

The weekend forecast does bring hope of improved conditions but the added day's play ensures competitors will not have to play more than 18 holes per day.

That will be music to the ears of joint-leader Tiger Woods, who is potentially three rounds from equalling Sam Snead's record of 82 PGA Tour victories.

“It’s going to be sloppy and tough for us and it’s going to be a grind on the weekend,” he said. “Hopefully I can keep it going.”

The world number 10 is six under par after Thursday's opening round, alongside US Open champion Gary Woodland.

Woods started with three consecutive bogeys but bounced back with nine birdies in his closing 15 holes to thrill the Japanese fans, who turned out in number to watch both golf's biggest star and home favourite Hideki Matsuyama, who is just one shot behind.

Rory McIlroy begins his second round eight shots back after carding a disappointing opening 72.

With no cut, the world number two is under no pressure to make it through to the second half of the tournament but he will be keen to push up the leaderboard as chases down the world's top player Brooks Koepka, who is not teeing it up this week after injuring his knee at the CJ Cup.

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