At 10:15 a.m., play was suspended due to heavy rain at the 109th U.S. Open at Bethpage’s black course in Farmingdale, New York. That rain never let up, and organizers have decided to discontinue play until 7.30 a.m. on Friday.
Players expressed a laundry-list of worries regarding the weather and its effect on the course.
“Players are concerned about mud balls and things like that, but that doesn't happen when the fairways are wet,” said Padraig Harrington. “It only happens when they start drying out and the mud sticks to it. It's going to be a problem more tomorrow afternoon and Saturday than tomorrow morning.”
Harrington, who's newly adjusted swing has recieved much attention and curiousity, had a tough start to his round at Bethpage, going four over par through six before play was stopped. However, as usual, the triple major winner did not sound too unhappy when talking to press afterwards.
“As I said earlier it's all about momentum in the bad weather, starting with a 3‑putt and then dropping a shot from nowhere, all of a sudden I'm 2‑over par and I haven't played quite well and I'm trying to figure out, how am I going to get back in this; how am I going to make some birdies and recover,” said Harrington of his tough start.
“I'm on the back foot, so the best thing for me is to come back fresh tomorrow. 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.”
Tournament favorite Tiger Woods appeared to be un-phased by the weather, opening his first round with four consecutive pars. He dropped two shots after a sloppy double-bogey on the 451-yard fifth, but came back with a birdie on six to bring him to one over par.
Teeing off on the back nine, Graeme McDowell got off to a shaky start but turned it around quickly. After paring 10, he bogeyed 11 and 12, but settled down and went on to post three pars and a birdie for the next four holes. He sat tied for 12th at one over par when play was suspended.
20-year-old rookie Rory McIlroy was set to tee-off at 1:14 p.m., but will have to wait until Friday to make his U.S. Open debut.
Jim Hyler, the chairman of the USGA Championship Committee, organized volunteers in frantic efforts to get the course, some of which is built on a swamp, as dry as possible for the rest of the tournament.
The rain prompted USGA officials to move tees up on four holes at Bethpage. The seventh hole is playing 489 yards, the ninth is 41 yards shorter and the 10th now measures 448 yards. The tees at the 12th hole were also moved up, but just by 5 yards. Hyler said a number of hole locations were adjusted as well to limit the possibility of puddling on the greens.
“The volume of rain was outpacing our ability to squeegee the greens,” said Hyler. “The greens just became unplayable.”