Any U.S. Open day at Oakmont Country Club is expected to be a black-and-blue affair. The course usually takes turns in beating up the field of 156 golfers.
What wasn’t anticipated was the eerily dark backdrop — and unrelenting bad weather.
Rainstorms were expected Thursday for the first round of the 116th U.S. Open, but weren’t expected to roll in until midafternoon.
They came early — and often, leading to three delays. The last one, at approximately 4 p.m. EDT, suspended play for the rest of the day, with 69 golfers still on the course.
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The afternoon wave of players, which included Puyallup’s Ryan Moore, never teed off. Many of them could play 36 holes Friday, weather permitting.
Nine players, including Olympia’s Andres Gonzales, finished the first round. Amateur Scott Scheffler, a University of Texas golfer, holds the clubhouse lead at 1-under-par 69.
That likely won’t hold up for long, because surprise leader Andrew Landry is at 3 under, and is facing a 10-foot birdie putt at the ninth hole to close out his first round.
“I heard … thunder when we were in the fairway, and I hit a good shot there,” Landry said. “I was trying to get (the round) in.”
Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson (through 14 holes) and New Zealand’s Danny Lee (through 13 holes) are tied for second at 2 under.
Defending U.S. Open champion Jordan Spieth is 1 over through 11 holes, and is tied for 16th.
About midmorning Thursday, rain began to fall, and thunder started to roar in the distance. Play was halted just after 10 a.m. EDT.
After 90 minutes, U.S. Golf Association officials instructed the players to return to the course — with no warm-up beforehand.
“It’s a challenge not being able to warm up … going out there and trying to hit tee shots at the U.S. Open,” Spieth said. “It is what it is.”
Play resumed for about an hour before the biggest cell of troublesome weather finally hit — with heavy rain, thunder and lightning.
This time, the golfers were brought back to their hospitality area to wait out a two-hour break.
Landry, ranked 624th in the world, certainly did not want to stop. He birdied three consecutive holes (Nos. 2-4) to get to 5 under, and faced a short birdie putt at the fifth hole when play was interrupted.
“It was tough,” said Landry, who has made five cuts in 11 PGA Tour starts this season. His best finish was last week at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, tying for 41st.
“I just kind of kept to myself, and I had my family here with me. I talked with my caddie (Kevin Ensor) a little bit, and turned my phone off.”
Play resumed one more time — for nearly 90 minutes — before a final thunderstorm ended the day’s action. More than a half-inch of rain had accumulated in six hours.
The last time a U.S. Open round was not completed in one day due to weather was in 2009 at Bethpage Black in New York (first round).
“It’s a long day for everybody,” Lee said. “They didn’t expect weather (to) turn out like this.”
Play suspended by rain
Scottie Scheffler (a)
(a) — amateur
Complete scores, 5B