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Storm-Watching at PGA Tour Stop

July 12, 1996

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) _ The threat of Hurricane Bertha bringing severe weather to the Michelob Championship had tournament and PGA Tour officials scrambling to prepare for a possible fast shutdown.

Officials met several times Thursday to discuss contingency plans for dismantling temporary structures like hospitality and concession tents and partially dismantling the electronic scoreboards.

``We figure we’ll need about 14 hours″ to take down the structures most likely to be damaged by high winds, tournament director Johnnie Bender said. She said workers already had begun dismantling smaller tents.

Stewart Williams, the PGA Tour’s traveling meteorologist, said he expects from 5-to-8 inches of rain beginning overnight.

``Above all, there’s definitely going to be a lot of rain,″ he said.

If today’s round is washed out, the tournament likely would be shortened to 54 holes rather than completed Monday, tour and tournament officials said.

``Our goal now is to still finish on Sunday,″ said Bender, adding many of the 2,000 volunteers have already used a week’s vacation, and corporate sponsors also would have trouble returning for another day on Monday.

A lost round would cost the tournament about $75,000, she said.

Apart from preparing for the worst, however, officials could only wait.

``We can prepare for a lot of stuff, but we really can’t plan anything until we get what we’re dealt,″ tour spokesman Wes Seeley said.

The forecasts were a hot topic among the players, many of whom said they noticed the winds kicking up appreciably before noon. In an event where the weather normally is blistering hot, the breeze was welcome, but ominous.

Curtis Strange, a Kingsmill resident, said he was heading to the marina to get his boat out of the water after hitting a few balls on the practice tee in the early afternoon.

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