Andrew Landry holds one-shot lead before play was suspended at U.S. Open
OAKMONT, Pa. -- Storms that took plenty of bite out of Oakmont wound up shutting down the U.S. Open on Thursday.
The first round was suspended for third and final time Thursday just as 28-year-old qualifier Andrew Landry was finishing up a dream round in his U.S. Open debut. Coming off two straight bogeys, Landry drilled his approach to about 10 feet on the par-4 ninth when the horn sounded as a violent storm approached.
He was at 3-under par.
"I was trying to get it in," Landry said. "But it's hard when you've got a couple of 60-footers out here. And it's the U.S. Open. So you've just got to be patient with it."
In the days leading up to the opening round, the concern was how to handle the course reputed to be the toughest in America.
More than an inch of rain brought some relief and made Oakmont softer, especially on the greens. The challenge turned out to be having to restart the round twice, once without an opportunity to warm up on the range.
The delay was the worst at a U.S. Open since Bethpage Black in 2009, when no one completed the first round.
Nine players finished at Oakmont, a short list that included Scottie Scheffler, who also had a U.S. Open debut to remember. Scheffler, who just finished his sophomore year at Texas, opened with a 69.
"I feel pretty good. It hasn't really sunk in yet," he said. "There's definitely some scores out there to be shot. We're used to playing short to all these pins, and now we've got to worry about controlling our spin. And you've really, really got to be on the fairway to attack these pins again."
Only seven of the 78 players who teed off in the morning were under par, so even a soft Oakmont presented its share of problems, mostly on the greens.
Defending champion Jordan Spieth was irritated by a few mistakes, though he was 1 over through 12 holes. Spieth was mainly disgusted on the 17th hole when his wedge landed behind the pin, spun back on the green and kept trickling until it went down the slope and into a bunker.
"You got to be KIDDING me! How is that in the bunker?" Spieth said from the fairway before slinging his club toward his bag.
Masters champion Danny Willett, Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler could not get off the course soon enough. They played in the same group and were a combined 14 over through 13 holes. Fowler has missed the cut in three of his last five events.
It was evident immediately how much the rain affected the course. Denny McCarthy, the first to hit a shot in the 116th U.S. Open, struck what he thought was a good approach to No. 1. The fairway slopes sharply downhill to a green that runs away from players, and the typical play is to land it some 25 yards short and let it run onto the green and, hopefully, have it stay there. His shot stopped short of the green.
But while the greens were soft, they still were quick as ever.
Starting on No. 10, Bryon DeChambeau had a 40-foot birdie attempt that didn't stop until it was some 35 feet beyond the hole.
Two holes later, Spieth hit a wedge that checked up about 10 feet short of the hole and then trickled a few inches toward the cup. And it didn't stop. Turn by turn, the ball kept moving until it settled 2 feet away. Even then, Spieth gave the putt great care and rolled in it.
"It's nice to know if I miss it, I'm chipping," Spieth said walking off the green.
There was still enough excitement, with Lee Westwood holing out with a wedge on the 14th hole, Danny Lee holing out from the fairway on No. 6 and McCarthy getting it on the act with a hole-out from the 11th fairway.
Lee was at 2 under through 13 holes, along with Bubba Watson, who made only two pars in his opening holes. Watson has never played the U.S. Open very well, except at Oakmont. He tied for fifth in 2007.
Westwood, Kevin Streelman and Harris English were at 1 under on various parts of the course.
DeChambeau, who won the U.S. Amateur last year and had to qualify for the Open because he turned pro, was among the early leaders until two holes set him back.
His shot out of deep rough in the 18th fairway squirted low and left and into a bunker, and his third shot banged off the grandstand, leading to double bogey. On his next shot at No. 1, he pushed right and into the bushes. Then, he hit a provisional shot into deep rough on the left. DeChambeau was spared by finding his ball. It was unplayable, so he was allowed to go back to the tee. He hit the fairway and limited the damage to a double bogey.
Players were sent back onto the course to play no more than two holes before another band of storms arrived, and play was halted the second time for 2 hours, 26 minutes.
The longest day of all belonged to the likes of Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and the other half of the field that didn't even play. And they faced an even longer day on Friday that for some could mean 36 holes at Oakmont.