The first day of the U.S. Open at Erin Hills was suspended due to severe rain Tuesday morning, marking the second suspension in a tournament that also has had to start five hours late due to extremely low scoring.
With the weather stubbornly holding in place, play was halted with four players on the course at 7:36 a.m. during the first hour of the first round, causing D.A. Points, J.B. Holmes, Ryan Armour and Bill Haas to finish their first round from Monday, their first round at Erin Hills, before play was delayed again.
It was raining steadily during the second round starting at 10:30 a.m., with the third-round pairing of Brian Harman and Cody Gribble — one of six groups still on the course — delayed.
The heavy rains kept referees from taking the measure of the pebbles and earth that typically have been covered by the retractable roof as well as other safety concerns. The tournament staff from the USGA and the PGA of America brought in nets to help assess the conditions.
The covers have already been rushed into place to hold in during this stretch of rain, mainly during the first round, when the rain would have filled the ball quite nicely.
Greens that are plugged with a tarp still were being watered, so the USGA had two choices in closing the course.
First, it could risk the delay and let more time pass, thus hurting scoring, and hope that the wind of that day would fall away, as it usually does during USGA big events.
The second, more difficult option is to close the course, likely allowing play to continue but force matches to be completed in 48 hours to allow for the women’s U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills in Southampton, N.Y., to finish on the same day.
As of 1:50 p.m., the rain was coming down harder, causing three groups to be called off, with the two holes covered, another pair at 2:00 p.m. and the third pairing at 3:40 p.m. One round of the second round also was suspended.
The delays had started to show earlier in the morning when Charles Howell III was joined by Tommy Fleetwood and Matt Kuchar in an early rain delay that forced both players off the course. They and Matt Every and Chez Reavie — the trio who began play at 12:47 a.m. — were all missing the cut line at 2 over par before play resumed.
Phil Mickelson’s first round, which began at 8:55 a.m., was completed at 8:57 a.m.
That was after being delayed at 2:05 a.m. because of delays due to a steady rain that began not long after reaching the course. Mickelson needed to tee off at 11:23 a.m.
The rain was also a factor in the first round Monday as those three early groups managed to finish their rounds. With the storm moving through the area, players and officials headed indoors and were prepared to make sure players had shelter from the rain if play resumed.
The lack of rain Sunday followed an eventful week in which USGA officials adjusted practices and pre-tournament party plans to account for the stage setting from the floodwaters in Wisconsin.
The course set-up was geared to a round of golf, though greens that needed water might have seen more attention had the wind carried through two storm fronts that moved through at different times.
“The greens were so used to being watered that the nature of the green is different when it rains,” CEO Mike Davis said earlier this week. “Rainwater is different than when you’re pushing the sprinklers and you’re not getting the rain but it’s kept on the golf course.”
Davis also noted, “It takes a lot of water.”
The par-3 eighth was the most soggy and was changed to a par-4 after the tournament shifted to move the tee back 350 yards. The moment was also notable because the U.S. Open, a major that is predominantly played on a long, long, long course, included the first par-4 on the short course at Erin Hills.