- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 18, 2009

— Gentlemen, bail away.

The first round of the 109th U.S. Open was a virtual washout Thursday at Bethpage State Park, dousing Tiger Woods (1-over through six holes) and the rest of the early starters before play was suspended at 10:15 a.m. and eventually postponed for the day.

A steady rain arrived at dawn and intensified around 10 a.m., swamping the greens on the Black Course and washing an unknown interloper to the top of the early Open leaderboard.

The only one of four players at 1-under to have completed nine holes, 46-year-old journeyman Jeff Brehaut overwhelmed a lone bogey with birdies at Nos. 13 and 17 to claim the clubhouse lead at 1-under through 11 holes. After starting on the back nine, Brehaut will resume play at the par-3 third when the starting horn sounds on the field at 7:30 a.m. on Friday.

The second wave of first-round players, none of whom struck a shot on the course Thursday, are scheduled to start opening-round play at 10 a.m., and the USGA hopes to for begin second-round play at 4 p.m. or shortly thereafter.

Given his erratic start, Woods must have been thankful for the stoppage. Playing a like a man who had swapped his woods for an oar, squeegee and umbrella, the 33-year-old Woods yanked his opening drive left of the merchandise tent separating the 1st and 18th holes and then fouled another drive dead right at the 5th.

He pulled his customary Houdini routine at No. 1, escaping with an up-and-down par. But he couldn’t duplicate the feat at the 5th, where he gouged out of the rough, dumped his third shot short into a greenside bunker and left the hole steaming after a double bogey. Woods rebounded with a 20-foot birdie at No. 6 to claw back to 1-over and faces a testy six-footer for par at the 7th when play resumes on Friday.

Though Friday is expected to be a playable, if gloomy, day, the forecast for the weekend and beyond is dreadful. More nasty weather is expected with few pauses from Saturday through Tuesday, making the scheduled Sunday night finish a practical fantasy. If the weather cooperates, the USGA would like to complete second-round play by dusk on Saturday and attempt a 36-hole, post-cut finale on Sunday.

More than likely, however, the 109th U.S. Open is headed for a Monday, Tuesday or even Wednesday finish.

“We will not determine a national champion until we play 72 holes,” said Mike Davis, the USGA’s senior director of rules and competition. “If that takes us into Monday, Tuesday, whatever … I’m not trying to be pessimistic, but we will play 72 holes.”

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