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Stricker plays six soggy holes on Open’s Day 1

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Alex Miceli
June 19, 2009
— Steve Stricker has experienced almost everything in the U.S. Open, but in Thursday's first round on the Black Course at Bethpage State Park, the Edgerton native had to deal with the worst weather he has ever seen in the national golf championship.

More than an inch of rain fell on the Long Island course, forcing the USGA to suspend the first round at 9:15 a.m. (CDT), with hopes of starting back up again later in the day. But as the rain continued to fall, the first-round suspension was extended until 6:30 this morning.


“It was tough,” Stricker said of the conditions as he left the course for the day with a 1-over-par score for six holes. “And they didn’t give us any breaks today, either.


“I played the back side first, and the 10th hole was up one tee box. I’m like, ‘Oh, good, they kind of saw this coming.’


“But from that point on, the tees were back, and it played very long. So it was very difficult.”


Stricker started his first round at 6:44 in a group that included Sweden’s Henrik Stenson and local qualifier Andrew Svoboda, but the threesome only got through six holes before the round was called for the day.


At 1-over-par after bogeying the par-4, 15th hole, Stricker still was upbeat about his round, even though it was one of the harder six-hole stretches he has experienced.


“They were all hard,” Stricker said of the six holes he played. “I think I hit a 3-wood into a par-4, a utility club into a par-4, a 5-iron into a par-5 for my third shot.


“Those were typically not clubs that we’re coming in with on those par 4s and par 5s. So you just had to suck it up and try to hit good shots and make pars.


“That was what you were out there to try to do, and actually the scoring wasn’t too bad. I looked at that time, and four guys are under par. I’m 1 over, which I feel like I got away with a good start—so, you know, considering the circumstances.”


Now Stricker will have to prepare for a scheduled start of 6:30 (CST) to finish his first round. But with standing water on every green and many of the fairways, many players believe that the start may be pushed back some


“I got a friend here, and we will go out to dinner, for sure,” Stricker said of his plans. “Maybe a movie. We’ve got a couple hours here to kill so, just get ready for tomorrow.”


U.S. OPEN AT A GLANCE
Out in front: Jeff Brehaut, Johan Edfors, Andrew Parr and Ryan Spears were all 1 under par when play was suspended for the day because of heavy rain. Brehaut was through 11 holes, Edfors four, and Parr and Spears three. No player had completed more than 11 holes and half of the 156-player field did not even tee off.
Tiger and Phil: Defending champion Tiger Woods, who won the Open when it was played at Bethpage in 2002, was 1 over through six holes when play was called for the day. Phil Mickelson did not begin his round.
Noteworthy: The last time a U.S. Open round was not completed the day it started was the first round in 2004 at Shinnecock Hills, which is also on Long Island.
Quoteworthy: “I made two birdies, which was great, and found myself at the top of the leaderboard and seeing what Tiger goes through every day.”—Jeff Brehaut, one of four players tied for the lead at 1 under.
Key stat: About 1 inch of rain fell on the golf course from Wednesday night through Thursday afternoon.
Key pairing: Phil Mickelson, Retief Goosen and Ernie Els, TBD.
Television: 9 a.m.-2 p.m., ESPN; 2-4 p.m., NBC; 4-6 p.m., ESPN.

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