Weather takes its toll in Oakmont on day one of the US Open
Published 16/06/2016 | 14:51
Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy found hugely enjoyable ways to pass the time as bad weather brought a frustrating opening day of the 116th US Open to an early close.
Only half of the 156 players were able to start their opening round and just nine finished as a series of thunderstorms disrupted play at Oakmont before play was abandoned shortly after 4.30pm local time, with torrential rain bringing warnings of flash flooding in the area.
World number 624 Andrew Landry was three under par and facing a 10-foot birdie putt on his final hole when the siren sounded for the final time, leaving amateur Scottie Scheffler as the leader in the clubhouse after a one-under-par 69.
Westwood was one under par with five holes to play with stablemate Matt Fitzpatrick, Ireland's Shane Lowry and Scotland's Russell Knox level par, but McIlroy was four over in his bid for a second US Open title.
The Northern Irishman at least had the consolation of seeing his country beat Ukraine in the European Championships after Westwood had enjoyed England's victory over Wales.
After beginning his first round from the 10th, Westwood had followed a birdie on the 12th with a bogey on the 13th before holing out from 124 yards for an eagle on the par-four 14th.
Play was then suspended for the first time shortly after 10am, with Westwood and playing partners Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer on the 16th green.
That left the Ryder Cup team-mates with a short walk across the 17th fairway to the media centre, where they took shelter from the rain and watched the action unfold in Lens.
" We managed to watch the second half of the England game in the first delay which was good and then nearly all of the Northern Ireland game and then the Germany v Poland game just now," Westwood said.
Finishing second in the Masters in April extended Westwood's unwanted record of most top-three finishes in a major without winning one to nine, the former world number one adding: "I think all the guys here, they get fired up for the majors. They are the ones they want to win and I'm not different.
"I'm 43 years of age now and I don't know how many more majors I have, hopefully a few. I like to get into contention and give myself a chance. That's what I did at the Masters and hopefully I'll do it here."
McIlroy, Danny Willett and Rickie Fowler were on the ninth fairway when the second suspension occurred and McIlroy took advantage by sprinting to the clubhouse to catch the remainder of Northern Ireland's game.
And just as Niall McGinn's stoppage-time goal secured a 2-0 win, tournament officials announced that the range had opened ahead of a second resumption.
This time the players were allowed time to warm up beforehand, having unusually been denied the chance do so after the initial stoppage.
Masters champion Willett was among those unhappy with the decision, writing on Twitter: "Find it odd that we stay in position for an hour, then might have to go straight back out.. Not great for the old body!!!"
Austria's Bernd Wiesberger also took to social media to complain: "Thanks @usga for that short notice restart without the Option to warm up again after one hour of sitting around. Just wondering if you gonna pull the same stuff again after this thunder has passed...!"
Defending champion Jordan Spieth was furious for other reasons, the world number two's group having already been warned for slow play before he saw his approach to the 17th spin back off the green into a deep bunker.
"You've got to be kidding me! How is that in the bunker. That's such crap," fumed Spieth, whose mood was at least improved by saving par from the sand when play resumed.
A bogey on the second left Spieth one over par after 11 holes when play was abandoned, with six-time runner-up Phil Mickelson and world number one Jason Day among those unable to hit a single shot in anger.