FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (AP) - The first round of the U.S. Open started Thursday. It's anyone's guess when it will end, thanks to more rain than Bethpage Black could handle.
Making greens look like swimming pools and creating streams on many fairways, rain pounded an already-waterlogged course Thursday and prompted a stoppage less than 3½ hours after play began. The United States Golf Association had its fingers crossed for a "three- to five-hour" window for competition in the afternoon.
That means many, if not all, with afternoon starting times Thursday may simply not begin play until Friday.
"Where's my canoe," mused Ian Poulter on his Twitter feed during the delay.
Oh, and while Friday's forecast isn't as bad, more rain is possible.
"I wish I had better news," said Jim Hyler, chairman of the USGA's championship committee.
Already, there was talk of a Monday finish, and not one like the classic playoff between Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate a year ago at Torrey Pines. For the record, the last 72-hole Monday finish at the U.S. Open was 1983.
Conditions were arduous for everyone, including Woods, whose U.S. Open defense started with an adventure.
Woods pulled his tee shot 50 yards into the rough before scrambling for an improbable par on his opening hole, as increasingly strong rain pelted an already-wet course.
Playing alongside fellow reigning major winners Padraig Harrington and Angel Cabrera, Woods' first shot was so far off line he considered playing a second ball from the tee.
"Way left," caddie Steve Williams said to the world's No. 1 player on the tee box.
Woods eventually hit his second from near the front of a merchandise tent, his ball sailing over the thickest rough alongside the opening fairway. He ended up playing off grass trampled by several days of foot traffic, then got up and down from a greenside bunker for par.
How good was his save? Cabrera and Harrington, both of whom were in decidedly better spots off the tee, each made bogey.
So while Woods successfully salvaged his first hole, work crews - armed with squeegees on greens and using hoses to pump water off the 18th fairway - eventually couldn't keep up with the rainfall.
Less than a half-inch fell when play was halted at 10:16 a.m., but the already soggy course couldn't take the extra moisture.
"The volume of rain falling was outpacing our ability to squeegee the greens," Hyler said, as rain pelted the tent he was standing in, a constant, ominous pitter-patter. "That was the bottom line. The greens just became unplayable and we needed to suspend."
The National Weather Service said up to 2 inches of rain was possible during the day.
Jeff Brehaut, Johan Edfors, Andrew Parr and Ryan Spears were the only players under par when play was stopped, all at 1 under.
Woods was 1 over through six holes. When play resumes, he'll have a par putt on the 7th green, after both he and Cabrera opted to play third shots from the sand after the horns blew to suspend the tournament.
Cabrera, Poulter and Justin Leonard were among those at even par when play was halted. Other notables: Former U.S. Open champions Geoff Ogilvy, Jim Furyk and Michael Campbell were 1 over, Boo Weekley and Zach Johnson were 2 over and Harrington was 4 over.
Forecasters said all week that rain could have a serious effect on the tournament, especially during the first day.
They couldn't have been more right.
Rickie Fowler, an amateur who made the cut at last year's Open, was the first person to swing away from the opening hole Thursday. He arrived at the tee at 6:54 a.m.
It started raining two minutes later.
Bethpage is hard enough when it's dry.
It was set up as the second-longest U.S. Open layout in history, and as an added bonus it was to have three different par-4s measuring more than 500 yards.
The USGA showed a bit of compassion in that regard Thursday. Hole No. 7 was played at 489 yards, down from 525, and the 10th and 12th holes both had tees slightly moved up, putting them just below 500 yards.
Waiting to see if he'd play at all Thursday was Phil Mickelson, a favorite of the Bethpage gallery. Mickelson, who announced last month that his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and has been overwhelmed by support since, was scheduled for an afternoon tee time, which seemed iffy at best.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.