Round 1, Take 2: US Open will try again Friday, after heavy downpour drowns Bethpage Black

By Tim Reynolds, AP
Friday, June 19, 2009

With better forecast, US Open to try again Friday

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — The field at the U.S. Open will try again this morning, when the forecast looks considerably better with only a 20 percent chance of precipitation.

Yesterday, no one finished more than 11 holes, and the 78 players with afternoon tee times got an unwanted day off. Streams ran through fairways, greens looked more like shimmering ponds and $10 ponchos were a big seller at the souvenir stands.

With more rain expected Saturday, even the USGA acknowledges that chances for a Sunday finish at the season’s second major championship seem less than certain.

“We probably played more holes than we thought,” said Woods, the defending champion who completed six holes yesterday.

Woods was 1 over, two shots behind a group of unlikely frontrunners — Jeff Brehaut, Johan Edfors, Andrew Parr and Ryan Spears.

Of those, only Brehaut, a 46-year-old in his second Open, had played more than four holes; he was through 11 when the day ended.

As Tiger Woods stood over his wayward opening drive of the U.S. Open, a volunteer walked to the world’s No. 1 player and held an umbrella over his head. Woods politely declined the shelter. His round was only a couple minutes old, but by then, he was already wet.

So, too, was just about everyone and everything else at Bethpage Black on Thursday. Barely three hours of golf was played before the tournament was halted by rain, which started exactly six minutes before the round began and left the course a flooded mess.

“It’s a long way to go,” said Brehaut, who’s usually playing on the Nationwide Tour these days. “Not that this isn’t great.”

Parr agreed. He had a stroke less than two years ago, suffered through partial paralysis and feared he’d never play golf again. Albeit after only three holes, he’ll show up Friday have slept on the U.S. Open lead.

“I thought it was perfect out there,” Parr said.

The plan is to finish the first round by late afternoon Friday, immediately start the second round and play until dark. There’s no way the second round will be finished before Saturday, but if all goes perfectly, there’s still a chance this tournament could end Sunday.

Well, a tiny chance.

“If the forecast we’ve got right now for Saturday and so on were absolutely accurate … yes, absolutely finishing on Sunday would be borderline impossible,” said Mike Davis, the USGA’s senior director of rules and competition.

Masters winner Angel Cabrera and Ian Poulter were among those at even par when play was halted. Former U.S. Open champions Geoff Ogilvy, Jim Furyk and Michael Campbell were 1 over, Boo Weekley and Zach Johnson were 2 over and two-time defending British Open champion Padraig Harrington was 4 over.

“It was kind of a relief to not be out there,” Ogilvy said. “Everything was wet.”

Harrington has certainly played in worse conditions. A cool, wet morning certainly had the feel of his native Ireland, and he quickly was headed the wrong way after a three-putt bogey on the opening hole.

It was tough for everyone, of course: Bogeys outnumbered birdies by a 5-to-1 margin.

“The best thing for me is to come back fresh tomorrow,” Harrington said. “I know it’s going to be early. It’s a new start but for me, I’ve still got 66 holes of this tournament.”

He’s one of the lucky ones. Half the field, including Phil Mickelson, 2008 runner-up Rocco Mediate, Sergio Garcia and Stewart Cink never got anywhere near the opening tee on Thursday.

Cink, on his Twitter feed, wrote that his family spent $100 at lunch and was trying to pick an afternoon movie, calling it “evidence of a rainy day.”

“Any suggestions?” he wrote.

On the course, adding a club — or more — was a popular suggestion.

Already the second-longest layout in U.S. Open history, Bethpage only seems longer now, thanks to plenty of rain already this month topped off by Thursday’s daylong deluge.

Justin Leonard was through seven holes at even par, despite making three birdies. He hit a 4-wood on the 216-yard third hole, and smoked a driver on the 408-yard sixth that traveled only 222 yards in the wind and rain. Leonard then hit 4-iron to 2 feet.

“My goal was to forget about par and do the best I could,” he said.

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