First round of U.S. Open rained out

Already played on a long course, the U.S. Open suddenly turned into a long week.

Workers roll water off the 18th fairway at the Bethpage Black on Thursday to no avail as the first round of the U.S. Open was halted.

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — Already played on a long course, the U.S. Open suddenly turned into a long week.

Tiger Woods began his title defence Thursday on soggy Bethpage Black by having his caddie hold an umbrella until it was time to hit his opening drive. Facing a 15-foot birdie putt on the second hole, Woods stepped away so workers could mop up the green with a squeegee.

He didn’t finish seven holes before Bethpage was too soaked to continue.

“We probably played more holes than we thought,” Woods said.

Relentless rain covered the greens in water and created tiny streams in some of the fairways, forcing the first round to be suspended after only three hours 15 minutes. No one played more than 11 holes.

Phil Mickelson never even made it to the golf course.

And with rain in the forecast the rest of the week, no one was sure when it would end.

“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.

The last time a U.S. Open finished on Monday without a playoff was in 1983 at Oakmont, won by Larry Nelson.

The 78 players who got started were to return at 7:30 a.m. today, and if weather allows the first round to finish, the second round would begin immediately until it was too dark to play.

Of the four players atop the leaderboard at 1-under par, Jeff Brehaut was the only one who saw more than four holes. He was on the par-3 third hole, his 12th hole of the round.

Andrew Parr of London, Ont., was the only one of the four Canadians to start his round, sitting 1-under through three. Mike Weir of Bright’s Grove, Ont., Stephen Ames of Calgary, and Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., never hit the course.

Even for a short day of work in the rain, it was clear that Bethpage Black would be long and tough from so much rain.

Brehaut’s first birdie came on the par-5 13th when he hit a five-wood for this third shot into 10 feet. He hit fairway metals for his second shot on par fours three other times.

“It played even longer than the practice rounds,” he said.

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

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

Also at even par was Masters champion Angel Cabrera, whose lone birdie came from a 30-yard pitch on the par-5 fourth hole that spit up water as it checked up inside a foot from the hole.

Woods was 1-over after a shaky start.

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