South Africa’s Retief Goosen leads The European Tour challenge at the end of a weather disrupted first round at the 101st US Open at Southern Hills GC in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Goosen, who finished tied for fifth place at last week’s Compass Group English Open at the Marriott Forest of Arden, was three under par through his first seven holes and tied with clubhouse leader, Hale Irwin, when a violent thunder storm caused play to be abandoned for the day at 3.39 pm local time.
Earlier, Irwin, a former three-time US Open champion and the oldest man in the field at 56, turned the clock back when he returned an impressive 67 and it might have been even better but for bogeys on both of his opening two holes. Nevertheless, his total put him one shot in front of Japan’s Toshimitsu Izawa, who was two under through four holes, and two ahead of a large group on one under.
Spain’s Sergio Garcia, winner of the recent MasterCard Colonial tournament on the US PGA Tour, and Angel Carbrera, current leader of the Volvo Order of Merit, both returned level par 70s to share 12th place with America’s Phil Mickelson and Matt Gogel.
Also on that number, albeit still with holes to play, were South Africa’s Ernie Els, Sweden’s Gabriel Hjerstedt and the rejuvenated Englishman Nick Faldo, three of the 90 golfers in the 156-strong field left stranded on the course.
“My goal was to go out and be competitive,” said Irwin, the champion in 1974, 1979 and 1990. “Who knows what tomorrow might bring but at least I have proved I’m not here to be ceremonial. I think I established my credentials today.”
Cabrera, winner of this year’s Open de Argentina, took full advantage of his 6.30am starting time when he played his first 13 holes in one under par but he then dropped a shot on the treacherous 412 yard par four 15th hole to finish his round on 70.
Garcia opened with a bogey on the downhill 454 yard first but then posted three birdies and two further bogeys to match his South American rival. It also meant that he finished the day three shots ahead of World Number One Tiger Woods, who is chasing his fifth successive win in a Major but who, uncharacteristically, stood at three over par after a double bogey on his ninth hole.
When play was abandoned a total of 11 European Tour members had completed their rounds with Germany’s Bernhard Langer finishing one shot behind Cabrera and Garcia on 71 and with Sweden’s Jarmo Sandelin (72) and Ireland’s Padraig Harrington and Scotland’s Paul Lawrie (both 73s) also in close attendance, one shot ahead of Fiji’s Vijay Singh, Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke and Scotland’s Gary Orr.
Among those still out on the course, Denmark's Thomas Björn, Sweden’s Jesper Parnevik and Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie were all nestling just behind the leaders at one over par having played seven, nine and ten holes, respectively, and New Zealander, Michael Campbell, was one shot further back at two over par through 12. However, qualifier Mathias Grönberg was three over thorough 11 and Eduardo Romero was four over after 14.
Further down the leaderboard, Lee Westwood, the Number One on the 2000 Volvo Order of Merit, returned a disappointing five over par 75 that could have been a lot worse but for some excellent scrambling around the greens.
“I did well to turn a 90 into a 75,” said the Englishman. “To be honest, I felt like a sailor out there, tacking from side to side.”
Westwood’s problems stemmed from the fact that he missed the fairway on six out of 14 par fours and par fives and it was compounded because he also missed ten greens in regulation.
“It was one of those rounds you want to forget as quickly as possible,” he added. “I have a lot of work to do.”
Elsewhere, José Maria Olazábal and Miguel Angel Jiménez both recorded 77s and will need to improve significantly in the second round if they are to survive the cut.
Welshman, Philip Price, winner of this year’s Algarve Open de Portugal, will play no further part in this year’s Championship. He withdrew after 14 holes of his first round citing an unspecified illness. He was seven over par at the time.
First round play is scheduled to resume at 7am with the second round due to begin at 9am, two and a half hours behind the original starting time. The second round will not be completed until Saturday morning.