U.S. Open: Weather forces early halt to first round

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UPDATE (11:14 a.m. ET): The rains have stopped and the USGA just announced that play is scheduled to resume at 12:10 p.m. Afternoon pairings will be delayed three hours and 34 minutes from their original starting times, which means Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott will not tee off until 4:48. Weather permitting, of course.

ARDMORE, Pa. — The golfers who held Thursday's early tee times at U.S. Open likely hoped to complete as many holes as possible before the approaching bad weather arrived.

Mother Nature, however, was not on their side. The first round of the tournament at Merion Golf Club was suspended at 8:36 a.m. ET in anticipation of a storm system that barreled its way through the Midwest on Wednesday and made its way into Pennsylvania over night. The warning horns drove fans from the already packed grandstands and big rumbles of thunder were heard overhead roughly 15 minutes later. A steady and driving rain began around 9:05 a.m and showed no signs of letting up.

"Well, that's a bummer," said one man to his companion for the day as they left the grandstand on the 15th hole after seeing Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and Nicolas Colsaerts come through.

The National Weather Service expects one to three inches of rain to fall throughout the day with an added possibility of hail and even tornadoes. (Click here for the forecast in Ardmore, Pa.) There's a fear this could be worse than your normal weather delay at a golf tournament since the low-lying 11th and 12th holes are prone to flooding and would need significant work to get back into playing condition. The USGA has a plan to incorporate two holes from Merion's West Course if the two holes on the East Course are unplayable. Officials, however, said they were confident that such a switch would not be necessary.

Phil Mickelson was the biggest name holding an early tee time for the first round. He completed five holes of the back nine with playing partners Keegan Bradley and Steve Stricker and currently rests at even par. Ian Poulter is the early leader at -3 after starting on the back nine with three straight birdies.

The much anticipated threesome of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott wasn't scheduled to tee off until 1:14 p.m. But by the looks of the radar screen, golf fans in the Philadelphia area will have to wait a bit longer to really get this thing under way.

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