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Thursday, June 18, 2009

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From Bethpage To Bathpage; New Parking Plan For Spectators

****Transportation And Parking Plan Update***

Due to Thursday’s storm and recent rainfall at the U.S. Open at Bethpage State Park, parking lots D, F and R will be closed Friday and for the remainder of the championship.

Because of the closures, championship patrons with parking passes for Lots D and F and volunteers with parking passes for Lot R should proceed to general spectator parking areas at Jones Beach to access complimentary shuttle buses to Bethpage State Park. General spectator shuttles begin at 5:30 a.m. Shuttles for early-shift volunteers are also scheduled.

Gates open at 6 a.m. and starting times are scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m.

It was water, water, everywhere when heavy rains deluged the U.S. Open, causing Thursday's play to be suspended, then postponed until Friday

By David Shefter, USGA

Farmingdale, N.Y. – Bethpage Black morphed into Bethpage Bath on Thursday.

More than an inch of rain saturated the venue for the 2009 U.S. Open, causing the first round to be suspended at 10:15 a.m. After waiting more than three hours for the precipitation to stop, USGA officials decided shortly before 2 p.m. to postpone play for the day.

None of the 78 golfers in the morning wave completed their rounds.

The first round is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. on Friday, with the afternoon wave beginning at 10 a.m. in 11-minute intervals.

“The volume of rain was outpacing our ability to squeegee the greens,” said Jim Hyler, the chairman of the Championship Committee, explaining why play was suspended. “The greens just became unplayable.”

Officials were hopeful that the storm would pass through by early afternoon, but a break never came. After conferring with on-site meteorologists, Hyler and Mike Davis, the USGA’s senior director of Rules and competitions, decided to call it a day.

"There was some weather that filled in behind what we thought was the end and it's continuing to rain," said Hyler. "We just felt it would just be very difficult to get the course prepped and get the players back out there for any meaningful time, so we made the decision to go ahead and not resume today."

When play was suspended, four players shared the lead at one under par. Jeff Brehaut, a 46-year-old from Los Altos, Calif., who competes on the Nationwide Tour, was through 11 holes. Sweden’s Johan Edfors, Andrew Parr of Canada and Ryan Spears of Del City, Okla., had completed four, three and three holes, respectively.

Tiger Woods was one over par through six holes. After the horns blew to suspend play, Woods played a greenside bunker shot at the par-4 seventh hole and decided to mark with fellow competitors Angel Cabrera and Padraig Harrington.

Fan favorite Phil Mickelson had yet to start. His new starting time on Friday will be 11:06 a.m.

A steady rain began shortly before the first ball was struck at 7 a.m., and while maintenance crews worked vigorously to squeegee excess water from fairways and putting greens, it quickly turned into a fruitless exercise. Under a special policy, players were allowed to have their line of putt squeegeed, but that line was extended 3 feet beyond the hole.

Water hogs and dry wells also were being used to extract moisture. The greens were the big issue, along with the 18th fairway. The bunkers, according to Hyler and Davis, were just fine.

USGA officials are still hopeful to finish the 72-hole competition by Sunday. Although rain is forecast again for the weekend, the tentative plan is to start the second round on Friday at 4 p.m. and finish on Saturday.

"The goal here is to play as much golf as we can on any given," said Davis, who didn't rule out a 36-hole Sunday finish. "If we need to, we will play slightly more than even 36 holes once we make the cut.

"I'm not sure we'll get that in given the weather. But that has happened before."

The last U.S. Open to have a 36-hole final day was 1964 at Congressional Country Club. That occurred when the final two rounds were always played on one day. The U.S. Women's Open in 2006 at Newport (R.I.) C.C. featured a 36-hole Sunday finish when heavy fog wiped out the first round on Thursday. And the 2004 U.S. Senior Open played 36 on Sunday at Bellerive C.C.

The last U.S. Open to finish on Monday without a playoff was 1983 at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club, where Larry Nelson prevailed over defending champion Tom Watson.

David Shefter is a USGA Digital Media staff writer. E-mail him with questions or comments at dshefter@usga.org.


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