Thursday, June 18, 2009

Soaked Open may resume later today

First-round play in the U.S. Open was suspended for the day at 1:45 p.m. Thursday after less than half the field had begun play.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. on Friday.

Even as the rain continued to pour down outside, Jim Hyler -- championship director for the USGA -- said he is optimistic there will be more golf played today at Bethpage Black in the U.S. Open.

Hyler met with the media around noon -- his navy rain suit still wet -- to update the status of this weather-stalled Open.

Hyler said it would take just over one hour for the course to be readied for play once the heavy rain that has dropped .6 inches of rain on Bethpage today subsides.

An army of maintenance workers will spring into action -- squeegies in hand -- and officials are hopeful they can get in three to five hours of golf later today.

It's unlikely that all the players scheduled to play in the afternoon will tee off and Hyler acknowledged there's little chance -- even if predicted good weather on Friday -- that the second round can be finished before sometime Saturday.

Golfers were on the course for more than three hours this morning before the rain finally outpaced the ability to squeegie the greens dry. Eventually, there were ponds and small streams on fairways and greens around the course.

Once play resumes today -- if it does -- Hyler said USGA rules allow for players to have their putting lines squeegied before they putt. Their lines will be squeegied three feet past the hole, as well.

The low-lying 18th fairway will be a problem. Balls are expected to embed in the wet fairway and players will be allowed a free drop. However, they may have to play from casual water because their nearest relief might be 50 yards away in heavy rough.

"There's nothing we can do about the weather," Hyler said. "This is the first suspension we've had in the Open since 2004. It's a outdoor game. You react to it."