Rain suspends 1st round of US Open

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. - Already played on a long course, the US Open suddenly turned into a long week.

Tiger Woods began his title defense 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.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
A member of the grounds crew drives a golf cart through a puddle after play was called during the first round of the US Open golf championship on the Black Course at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, New York, June 18, 2009

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 3 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 US 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 am Friday, 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.

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 5-wood for this third shot into 10 feet. He hit fairway metals for his second shot on par 4s 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 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.

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.

He hit his opening tee shot so far to the left that it appeared to carom off a merchandise tent into rough that had been trampled enough for him to easily hit toward the green. He found a greenside bunker, blasted out to 6 feet and escaped with par.

Trouble came on the fifth, when Woods hit into the trees, laid up to the fairway, then hit a shocker of a shot, coming up 15 yards short of his target and in a bunker, leading to double bogey.

The rain kept falling, and from all corners of the course, players were thinking the same thing: If it rains any harder, it's over.

It started raining harder.

The horn sounded to stop play as Woods and Cabrera were in a bunker on the par-4 seventh. Both opted to play out of the sand before it turned into mud, and Woods marked his par putt 10 feet from the hole and left the course.

"It was pretty tough out there," Woods said. "There was a lot of standing water."