/ 19 June 2009

Rain causes havoc at US Open

Rain made a shambles of the US Open schedule with Thursday’s postponement of play and more downpours in the forecast pointing to a probable Monday finish at the earliest, officials said.

”If the current weather forecast was accurate, a finish on Sunday would be borderline impossible,” Mike Davis, US Golf Association director of rules and competitions, told reporters.

With rain continuing to pound down, Davis said Bethpage Black was expected to receive an inch and a half of total precipitation on Thursday on an already soggy course.

The last group of Thursday’s first-round morning flight were able to finish only two holes.

The 78 players already on the course were scheduled to return at 7.30am local time to resume the first round, with the rest of the first-round starters pencilled in to start their rounds at 10am local time, weather permitting.

Davis said the hope was to start second-round play at 4pm.

Gloomy outlook
While Friday’s forecast was encouraging, with lighter rain that would allow golf to be played, the outlook for Saturday was discouragingly similar to Thursday, he added.

Despite feeling the urgency to get as much golf in as soon as possible, officials ruled out the use of lift, clean and place practices employed by the golf tours when balls can become muddied after landing in soaked fairways.

”We just don’t play lift, clean and place,” Jim Hyler, chairperson of the USGA championship committee told reporters. ”If it gets that bad we’re going to suspend.”

However, using a squeegee on the greens to chase away standing water would continue and players could request their putting line be squeegeed.

”Where you have casual water on the green, where you have water on the green, we don’t see that as inconsistency to squeegee the line of putt,” said Hyler.

”As long as you squeegee [three feet] past the hole.”

Meanwhile, triple champion Tiger Woods splashed his way to one over par after six holes before the opening round was washed out on Thursday.

The world number one, a heavy favourite this week in pursuit of his 15th Major victory, was left with an eight-foot par putt on the seventh green when play was finally suspended at the waterlogged Bethpage Black.

Woods was two strokes behind the early leaders — Americans Jeff Brehaut and Ryan Spears, Swede Johan Edfors and Canadian Andrew Parr — after only three-and-a-quarter hours of golf was possible. — Reuters