Stormy weather wins the opening day as little-known Andrew Landry holds US Open lead
Multiple weather delays made for a chaotic first round at the US Open on Thursday at Oakmont, where little-known Andrew Landry clung to a one-shot lead when play was suspended for the day.
Defending champion Jordan Spieth and world number three Rory McIlroy failed to gain much traction on the unforgiving Oakmont course, and will only hope to turn things around when they return to finish their first rounds on Friday.
World number one Jason Day and five-time major-winner Phil Mickelson didn’t even tee off as three separate delays halted play for more than four and a half hours.
More than nine hours after the tournament teed off, nine players were in the clubhouse – led by 19-year-old American amateur Scottie Scheffler, who carded a one-under par 69.
Landry was three-under for the day, facing a 10-foot birdie putt at his final hole, the par-four ninth, when play was called.
“It was tough,” Landry said of the delays, although rain overnight and again during the day at least took the edge off Oakmont’s notorious greens.
“They’re a good speed and they’re so perfect out there,” Landry said. “You can make so many putts. I’ve hit the ball really well today and just made a bunch of putts and just kept it going.”
Landry was one stroke in front of two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson and New Zealand’s Danny Lee.
Watson and Lee reached two-under in contrasting style. Watson had three bogeys and five birdies through his first 10 holes – including a 49-foot birdie putt at the 10th – before parring his next four.
Lee, meanwhile, had two birdies on the front nine and was without a bogey through 13 – no mean feat on the treacherous Oakmont layout even in its most receptive state.
Landry, for example, teed off on 10 and moved to five under through 13 holes. He strung together three birdies in a row at the second, third and fourth with a pair of five-footers and a seven-footer.
Up by three, he came back to the pack with bogeys at the seventh and eighth – and will have had all night to contemplate that waiting birdie putt at the last.
“I was trying to get it in,” said Landry, who had a wait at the hole for players in front of him. “We were trying really hard ... you’ve got to stay patient with it.”
Former world number one Lee Westwood, one-under through 13 holes and sharing fourth with Scheffler, Kevin Streelman and Harris English, acknowledged the stop-start action was “frustrating”.
“But there’s nothing you can do about the weather,” added Westwood, who teed off on 10 and helped his cause by holing out for an eagle from the fairway at the par-four 14th.
“The eagle was a four-iron and then a wedge from 128 yards which landed right of the hole and screwed sideways in, which was nice,” he said.
There were no such breaks for Spieth or McIlroy.
Spieth, trying to become the first player since Curtis Strange in 1989 to successfully defend the US Open title, had two bogeys and a birdie to stand one-over through 11 – and a burst of temper at the par-four 17th when a lovely wedge shot spun away into a greenside bunker.
“Are you kidding me!” the world number two fumed. “How is that in the bunker?”
Things were even more of a slog for 2011 US Open winner McIlroy. He was in trouble early with back-to-back bogeys at the second and third.
He pulled a shot back with a clever birdie at the par-five fourth, where he reached the green in two but opted to chip toward the hole and gave himself a three-footer.
That was the high point of a day that included three more bogeys before play was halted with the Northern Ireland star four-over through 13, level with playing partner and Masters champion Danny Willett.