US Open underway at Merion after rain delay

11:28, Jun 14 2013
Luke Donald
Luke Donald, still chasing his first major victory, speaks to the media following a practice round at Merion.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods plays a shot through the rain to the green during a practice round.
Jose Maria Olazabal and Sergio Garcia
Spaniards Jose Maria Olazabal and Sergio Garcia hug during a practice round ahead of the 113th US Open.
USGA flags
USGA flags flutter in the breeze at Merion Golf Club, outside Philadelphia.
Merion Golf Club
The Merion Golf Club, outside Philadelphia, will host the 113th US Open.
Merion Golf Club
Three spectators walk past a pool of water during Monday's practice round at Merion.
Merion Golf Club
Grounds crew squeegee water off the sixth fairway during a downpour in Monday's practice round.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods holds two golf balls during a practice round ahead of the US Open.
Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods
Golfing legends Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods chat at the Merion Golf Club.
Lee Westwood
Lee Westwood of England plays out of a bunker during a practice round at Merion.
Rory McIlroy
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy signs autographs during his practice round.
Merion Golf Club
The grandstands sit empty during a weather delay during the first round of the US Open at Merion
Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia searches for his ball in the rough during the final practice round.
Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia discusses a shot with his caddie during the first round.
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson takes a chunk of grass out with his second shot from the 12th fairway.
Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler
Bubba Watson (left) and Rickie Fowler wait at the clubhouse during the weather delay.
Weather warning
The sign on the scoreboard tells the story as weather dominated the first morning at the US Open.
2013 US Open at Merion
Lee Westwood of England watches his tee shot on the 11th hole as Luke Donald of England looks on during Round One of the 113th US Open.
2013 US Open at Merion
Tiger Woods of the United States plays his third shot from a bunker on the second hole during Round One of the 113th US Open.
2013 US Open at Merion
Sergio Garcia of Spain walks off the tenth hole after finishing thre over par during Round One of the 113th US Open at Merion Golf Club.
2013 US Open at Merion
Robert Karlsson of Sweden hits a shot from a bunker on the 14th hole during Round One of the 113th US Open at Merion Golf Club.
2013 US Open at Merion
Tiger Woods reacts to missing a putt on the fourth green during the first round of the 2013 US Open.
Luke Donald
Luke Donald receives some instructions from his caddie John McLaren as he finishes his first round at Merion.
Steve Williams and Tiger Woods
Caddie Steve Williams (left) shakes hands with his former boss Tiger Woods at the conclusion of the first round.
Kevin Streelman
Kevin Streelman stretches with his driver on the fifth hole tee box.
US Open spectators
Umbrella-carrying US Open spectators leave the course after play was suspended during the opening round.
Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott
The US Open's power threesome of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott.
Adam Scott
Masters champion Adam Scott tees off on the ninth hole at Merion.
US Open officials
US Open officials search in the rough for a ball hit by Angel Cabrera.
US Open spectators
US Open spectators eye players down the fairway during the second round.
Hideki Matsuyama
Japan golfer Hideki Matsuyama discusses tactics with his caddie.
Wicker basket flag
A caddie holds a flagstick with the famed Merion wicker basket atop it.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods
US Open 2013 gallery
Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods walk up the 10th fairway together during the second round.
US Open 2013 gallery
Billy Horschel shares the lead with Phil Mickelson after two days play at the US Open.
US Open 2013 gallery
Phil Mickelson is all smiles after his second round score gave him a share of the lead.
Merion Golf Club
The scene at the 17th green at Merion Golf Club during the 113th US Open.
Steve Stricker
Steve Stricker leans on his putter as he reads the line of a putt during the second round.
Ian Poulter
Ian Poulter walks down the steps from the 17th tee to the green at Merion.
Cheng-Tsung Pan
Taiwan's Cheng-Tsung Pan plays from the bunker at the 15th hole.
US Open at Merion gallery
Charl Schwartzel held the lead at the halfway point in the third round.
US Open gallery 2013
Luke Donald unleashes a tee shot during the third round.
US Open 2013 gallery
Phil Mickelson and caddie Jim Mackay survey the scene on the fifth hole at Merion.
US Open 2013 gallery
Tiger Woods fired a six-over 76 in the third round.
US Open 2013 gallery
Hunter Mahan plays a shot from the fairway on the first hole of the final round.
US Open 2013 gallery
Australia's Jason Day reacts after missing a putt on the 15th hole.
US Open 2013 gallery
Billy Horschel plays a tee shot on the second hole in his final round.
US Open 2013 gallery
Phil Mickelson jumps for joy after holing out for eagle on the 10th hole.
US Open gallery 2013
2013 US Open champion Justin Rose.
US Open 2013 gallery
Justin Rose with the US Open trophy.
US Open 2013 gallery
Justin Rose points skywards to acknowledge his late father after holing out for par on the 18th green.

Clouds gave way to sun, squeegees gave way to putters, and the 13th hole gave way to birdies during the first round of the US Open's return to Merion Golf Club.

Drenching storms caused a 3 1/2-hour delay early Thursday, halting play less than two hours after it began. When the golfers returned to the course, one thing was evident: A 102-yard hole was easy pickings for the world's best players.

Nearly a quarter of the first 108 birdies scored were at the par-3 No. 13, Including one by 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, who used the hole to start a run of three consecutive birdies that included a chip-in at No. 15.

That hole aside, Merion looked as challenging as advertised, despite the onslaught of storms that softened the course during the past week.

The slanting greens and heavy rough valued precision over power, and no one's score got below 3 under by mid-afternoon. Ian Poulter had quite the start, with only one par spaced among four birdies and three bogeys through nine holes.

At one point, there were nine players under par - four at 2 under and five at 1 under - and two of them were amateurs.

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Intriguingly, Cheng-Tsung Pan of Taiwan and Kevin Phelan of Ireland didn't mimic the pros at No. 13: Both parred the hole and picked up a birdie or two elsewhere.

Sergio Garcia birdied No. 13, but that was an aberration in a terrible start for the Spaniard, who has spent the lead-up to the tournament trying to make amends with Tiger Woods.

Garcia had a quadruple bogey, double bogey and a bogey in his first five holes, but he later went birdie-eagle at the start of the front nine to climb back to a more respectable 4 over.

Garcia was greeted with mild applause and a few audible boos when he was introduced at the start of his round. He is playing his first tournament in the US since a recent exchange with Woods hit a low point when Garcia said he would serve fried chicken if Woods came to dinner during the Open.

Garcia has since apologized for the remark. He shook hands with Woods on the practice range this week and left a note in Woods' locker

He was also noticeably friendly to the gallery during Wednesday's practice round, stopping several times to sign autographs.

Cliff Kresge, a Floridian ranked No. 551 in the world, hit the first tee shot of the tournament at 6:45 a.m. The horn blew at 8:36 a.m., and thunder, lightning and downpours followed, sending everyone scurrying for cover.

Safety was a concern on a course that required fans to take long shuttle rides from remote parking lots. At a fan zone, where a replay of the limited action was on a jumbo screen, a worker used a microphone to implore an overflow crowd to move to the merchandise tent.

"We're not feeling safe having this many people in here," he told them. Many folks heeded his message and moved on.

Play resumed shortly after noon, pushing back the tee time for the marquee group of Woods, Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott to 4:44 p.m.

Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker saw the notoriously tough greens live up to their reputation after just a few minutes of play when each had a birdie putt roll 8 feet past the hole, Mickelson at No. 11 and Stricker at No. 12. Both ended up with bogeys.

Mickelson's early tee time presented a logistical challenge. He arrived at Merion after an overnight flight from San Diego, where he watched his oldest daughter graduate from the eighth grade.

Early on, he played like someone who didn't get much sleep. Starting on the 11th hole - one of the unorthodox arrangements in the setup at this course - he opened with the 3- bogey and put his tee shot in the rough at No. 12.

But he saved par at the 12th and birdied the short par-3 13th, as most everyone else did, and picked up another stroke at No. 1.

Any major weather disruption would be a shame, given that the US Open has waited 32 years to return to the course where Olin Dutra overcame a serious stomach illness to win in 1934, where Ben Hogan hit the picture-perfect 1-iron approach to No. 18 before winning in a playoff in 1950, where Lee Trevino pulled a rubber snake out of his bag at the first hole of the playoff when he beat Jack Nicklaus for the title in 1971, and where David Graham became the first Australian to win the trophy in 1981.

It would also dampen the drama of Woods' pursuit of his first major in five years, a reasonable proposition given that he's already won four times on the PGA Tour this year. And Scott's hopes of becoming the first to win the Masters and US Open back-to-back since Woods in 2002.

AP