2016 U.S. Open: Mother Nature Rules in First Round

By M. James Ward, Epoch Times Contributor
June 17, 2016 Updated: June 17, 2016

 OAKMONT, PA.—The U.S. Open commenced play Thursday but it was the action from the skies that dominated the storyline. Heavy thunderstorms caused three suspensions of play with just over two inches of rain falling prior and during the daylight hours on Thursday. It was the worst opening round weather since the ’09 event at Bethpage State Park’s Black Course on Long Island when heavy rains there washed out play completely.

After three suspensions, play in Round 1 was suspended for the day at 4:25 p.m. Only nine players completed Round 1 with the low round coming from amateur standout Scottie Scheffler from the University of Texas. The junior-to-be fired the lowest opening round by an amateur at Oakmont with a one-under-par 69.

Still on the course and looking to complete his final hole of the day is Andrew Landry. The 28-year-old who calls Austin, TX home got it to five-under-par for the opening round before making two bogies late in the round. He still needs to conclud the 9th hole — his 18th for the round. A par finish would have him as the early leader at three-under-par 67. One shot back at -2 is American Bubba Watson and New Zealander via South Korea Danny Lee. Each has several holes to play before concluding their opening round.

Resumption of Round 1 will begin at 7:30 AM Friday. The second wave of starting times did not begin Thursday and those times will commence at 8:00 AM Friday. It’s expected the first wave of Round 2 will begin Friday at approximatey 1:45 PM which means those who did not tee off on Thursday will likely be playing 36-holes on Friday. That list of players include world number one Jason Day and leading contenders such as Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson.

The new schedule will have players commencing Round 3 at approximately 1:45 PM — in groups of three off the 1st and 10th tees.

Oakmont showed plenty of bite to a few players who did manage to get some of their first round started. World ranked number three Rory McIlroy is four-over-par through 13 holes, Masters champion Danny Willett is also +4 through 12 holes and world-ranked number-five Rickie Fowler stands at +6 also through 12 holes.

The rains did manage to provide a bit more stopping action on approach shots but the added moisture has simply meant an even more trying time for players seeking to extricate errant golf shots that find the pesky rough. It will be interesting to see if the USGA decides to provide a trim to the rough in order to keep the course playable but still sufficiently challenging.

The expected forecast for the balance of the championship calls for dry and sunny conditions which will likely mean a return to the firm and fast conditions players had seen prior to Thurday’s deluge of water. Oakmont is susceptible to lower scores for Friday’s play but that will require nothing less than stellar play. As the course dries out with the anticipated forecast the firmness will only demand even greater care on all shots played.

 M. James Ward, a member of Golf Writer’s Association of America (GWAA) and past member of Met Golf Writer’s Association (MGWA), has reported on golf’s grandest events since 1980 in a variety of forums.