Jeev struggles to a five-over from eight holes before stoppage of play

FARMINGDALE (New York): Heavy rains brought an early end to first-round play at the 109th U.S. Open on Thursday as the water-logged Bethpage Black course became unplayable, and stars such as Tiger Woods battled through a deluge.

Soaked spectators braved intense showers and ankle-deep mud to watch a super group of reigning major champions navigate the course but rain swamped holes so badly that one green had a flagpole in the centre of a pond.

“The volume of rain falling was outpacing our ability to squeegee the greens,” said USGA championship committee chairman Jim Hyler. “The greens just became unplayable.”

Tough start for Woods

With just four players returning sub-par scores by the time the play was stopped, defending champion Woods salvaged an impressive par at the first after his tee shot went 50 yards left into a concession area. He found a greenside bunker but scrambled up and down on the way to standing one-over through six holes.

“It was pretty tough,” Woods said. “There was a lot of standing water. It was pretty wet and windy,” Woods said. “It was a slow day. We had to get in as many holes as we could. We probably played more holes than we thought.”

Woods was looking at an eight-foot par putt at the seventh when play was stopped and will face the putt when play resumes on Friday.

“It could be the same thing,” Woods said. “It’s a long day. We may not start on time if we get more rain. I just have to be ready at 7:30.”

With half the 156-man field yet to start, the co-leaders on one-under par were Sweden’s Johan Edfors (through four holes), Canada’s Andrew Parr (through three) and Americans Ryan Spears (after three) and Jeff Brehaut (after 11).

The inclement weather threw Jeev Milkha Singh’s campaign in complete disarray with the Indian going five-over after eight holes before stoppage of play.

Jeev began with a bogey and that became a recurring theme. He dropped another stroke on the third and parred the next before shooting a bogey hat-trick on par-four holes.

The Indian, battling a rib injury, had barely parred the eighth hole when steady rain made play impossible.

Wanted: A canoe

“Where’s my canoe?” said England’s Ian Poulter, level after seven holes, in a Twitter message posting.

“It’s pretty miserable out there,” said England’s Lee Westwood, two-over through five holes. “The ball keeps picking up mud and then squirting out sideways, so it was a difficult mental battle.”

Rain is forecast through Tuesday with weekend thunderstorms, making it likely that this would become just the second U.S. Open extended beyond Sunday, playoffs excepted.

“We will not determine a national champion until we play 72 holes. If that takes us into Monday or Tuesday, whatever,” senior competitions director Mike Davis said.

Only once in U.S. Open history has bad weather pushed the finish into Monday, that coming in 1983 at Oakmont when the last five holes were played a day late. This was the first unfinished U.S. Open round since 2004 at nearby Shinnecock. — Agencies

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