US Open Day 1 - Oakmont Tamed by Mother Nature
Post by Sports Writer Derek Clements
IT TURNS out that the monster's teeth can be removed after all. Not by the world's best golfers, but by Mother Nature.
When play was suspended for the day during the opening round of the 116th US Open at Oakmont, seven players were under par. The last time this championship was played here in 2007 there were a total of eight sub-par rounds during the entire tournament.
There had been warnings of doom in the weeks and days leading up to this year's championship - the rough was too thick, the greens were impossibly fast, we were told. Justin Rose dropped a ball beside one of the greens during a practice round - it disappeared from sight. And while that may well have been true while the fairways and greens were dry, that all changed when the rains came on the eve of the US Open.
Moats at Oakmont. pic.twitter.com/0QAGUrD4tH— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) 16 June 2016
With rain falling for much of the day and the arrival of thunderstorms, the USGA had no option but to tell the field to head home for the day and come back on Friday to try again.
But before play was abandoned, an amateur called Scottie Scheffler negotiated the course in 69 strokes. And it would have been even better had he not dropped a shot at the 18th hole. In case you were wondering, Scheffler came through regional qualifying via a playoff, and he is just 19 years old.
Scheffler is two behind Andrew Landry, who was three under for the 17 holes he was able to complete. Starting at the 10th, he reached the turn in 33 and then picked up birdies at the second,third and fourth. At that point he was five under par, but he dropped shots at the seventh and eighth and must come back to play one more hole to complete his opening round. The 28-year-old has one victory to his credit, on the Web.com Tour last year.
Don't worry, there are also some players on the leaderboard you will have heard of - Bubba Watson and Danny Lee are on two under after 14 and 13 holes respectively. Lee Westwood, still searching for that elusive first major, made a great start and is one under par after 13 holes.
A large group on level par includes Matthew Fitzpatrick, Martin Kaymer, Frenchmen Romain Wattel and Gregory Bourdy, Rusell Knox, of Scotland, and Shane Lowry, of Ireland. Jordan Spieth stands one over par after 11 holes.
The fact is that the rain took the fire out of the greens, meaning that we didn't witness seemingly perfect golf shots threatening the hole before heading off on crazy switchback journeys across these devilish greens. There is plenty of time for all that to change, of course, and you can be sure that it will. But on this rain-ruined day, we saw what could happen.
It wasn't all plain sailing for the big guns. Rory McIlroy and Masters champion Danny Willett, playing together, stumbled to four over par after 13 holes with 10 bogeys between them. Both men will be hoping for a fast start when they return to the course to complete their opening rounds. Rickie Fowler, who made up the threeball with Willett and Mciroy, fared even worse - six over.
Among those unable to start their rounds were the favourite, Jason Day, along with Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson.
The weather forecast is not great. Already, it seems certain that the US Open will not finish until Monday at the earliest.
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