FARMINGDALE, N.Y. -- Optimism got washed away Thursday, as did most of the scheduled first round of the 109th U.S. Open. When USGA championship chairman Jim Hyler and course set-up man Mike Davis met with the media at around 2:30 p.m. after suspending play for the day at Bethpage Black, both did much more than suggest that completing 72 holes of golf by Sunday night could be a difficult proposition. They all but predicted it.
"Borderline impossible" is actually how Davis described the chances of being done after four days if the weather forecasts the USGA brass are getting prove to be absolutely accurate. It's no longer Friday that is worrying the powers that be, but Saturday, when the conditions look as if they'll be identical to what happened today.
That said, here are a few questions to ponder as Jeff Brehaut, Johan Edfors, Andrew Parr and Ryan Spears go to sleep tonight leading the championship at one under par:
What is the best-case scenario for the USGA?
The first round resumes Friday morning at 7:30 a.m. and gets completed in the early afternoon. The second round begins at 4 p.m. Friday, and is finished Saturday morning. Miraculously, the sun breaks through and they play most of the third round Saturday, complete it Sunday and finish the final round in prime time that evening.
What is the worst-case scenario?
Rain prevents the second round from starting on Friday or finishing on Saturday. If the latter happens, as Davis said getting all 72 holes in by nightfall, Sunday is a long shot and we're back on Monday to finish up the tournament. An extra day of play to finish up the championship, excluding playoffs, has happened only twice in USGA history. In 1959 at Winged Foot GC and in 1983 at Oakmont CC.
Would they ever consider shortening the championship to 54 holes?
There's a better chance that Billy Payne will announce tomorrow that Augusta National GC will be open for public play one day a week than there is that the USGA might make this a three-round event. We'll be here until the Fourth of July if need be to get 72 holes in.
How does all this affect Tiger Woods chances of repeating?
After playing six holes, Woods is one over par and two behind the leaders. He didn't look anywhere near as sharp as he did the final round of Memorial, but then again, he wasn't playing in a monsoon out in Ohio. The wetter the golf course, the longer it's going to play, which only helps a long hitter like Tiger. Woods has just a good a chance of winning his fourth U.S. Open trophy when he resumes play Friday -- where his first shot will be a 12-footer for par on No. 7 -- as he did when he started this morning.
What if they finish 72 holes on Monday and there's a tie?
"Wow. That's a good question," Hyler said. "I think we'd get them back out and try to have the playoff [Monday] afternoon. Even if they finished around 3, I think we'd get them back out there."
If Grandma gave me a Thursday ticket for my birthday, is there any chance I can use it another day?
Sorry, junior, but because there was enough golf actually played on Thursday, the USGA will not be offering refunds. Hope you at least brought an umbrella.
-- Ryan Herrington