Play suspended at U.S. Open after heavy rains plague first round |
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Chris Adamski
People head for shelter after play is suspended for rain at the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club on Thursday, June 16, 2016.

Almost 10 hours after the first player teed off at the 116th U.S. Open, play ended at Oakmont Country Club on Thursday.

About half of that time, however, was spent with no one playing.

Heavy rains throughout the day led to three suspensions in play, culminating with a USGA announcement at 4:34 p.m. that the tournament would not resume until Friday morning.

Of the 156 golfers in the field, just nine completed their first round Thursday.

That meant that Andrew Landry – the 624th-ranked player in the world – would enter the second day of play at the U.S. Open as its leader.

A 28-year-old with only 12 PGA Tour starts to his credit, Landry sat at 3-under par as he prepared for a 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole of his round before the day’s third weather-delay air horn sounded at 3:51 p.m. because of the latest of a series of rainstorms to hit Western Pennsylvania on the opening day of the record eighth U.S. Open played at Oakmont.

After a soaking overnight storm that dumped 1.14 inches of rain on the historic course, a delay that began at 10:04 a.m. lasted 79 minutes and another, two-hour, 26-minute delay followed soon thereafter.

If Landry makes his putt when play resumes Friday, his 66 would mark one of the lowest first-round score recorded at any of the record eight U.S. Opens played at Oakmont.

Landry’s round still hadn’t ended more than 9 ½ hours after it started at 6:56 a.m. under what was a rare period of sunny skies in Oakmont on Thursday. Delays combining to last four hours and 27 minutes meant all those with afternoon tee times – including some of the biggest names in the sport – did not even tee off in the tournament.

Landry had a one-shot lead over two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson and New Zealander Danny Lee.

But Landry’s lead had shrunk as the result of consecutive bogeys on Nos. 7-8 after he’d played his first 16 holes all at par or better. He held a three-shot lead at 5-under when the second weather delay of the day hit.

The sogginess of the course slowed the greens enough to suppress scores, and no scores were lower than that of Landry. He teed off in the second-earliest timeslot; American Denny McCarthy was officially began play at No. 1 at 6:45 a.m.

Landry birdied Nos. 10 and 17 before a three-hole run of birdies of Nos. 2-4 early in his back nine.

Four golfers, including three-time European Tour Golfer of the Year Lee Westwood, were tied for fourth at 1-under.

Westwood provided the first – and, to this point, only – eagle of the tournament when he holed his approach shot on the par-4 No. 14 hole to briefly vault him into a tie atop the leaderboard until consecutive bogeys to begin his back nine dropped him back.

Watson had a wild start to the tournament, with five birdies and three bogeys over an eight-hole span through his first 10 holes of the tournament.

Among the bigger names who will open play Friday morning are Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson and world No. 1 Jason Day (2:20 p.m.).

Pine-Richland grad Mike Van Sickle overcame a slow start by birdying three of four holes between Nos. 13-16 and finished his first round at 6-over.

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