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Rory McIlroy glory bid blown off course as storms hit US Open

By Liam Kelly

Rory McIlroy was four over par after 13 holes as torrential rain and storms battered the US Open venue at Oakmont, Pennsylvania, resulting in delays and frustration for the golfers before play was finally suspended for the day.

McIlroy is seven behind surprise leader, American Andrew Landry, who is three under after 17, one ahead of Bubba Watson with 14 played.

McIlroy's fellow Ulsterman Graeme McDowell didn't even get his first round started.

The forecasts were bad for the afternoon, but the hope was that the morning groups, which included McIlroy, Shane Lowry and holder Jordan Spieth - one over after 11 - could get finished before the storms arrived.

Mother Nature had other ideas. The rough weather did not adhere to the schedule and arrived four hours ahead of the forecast.

McIlroy got one hour and 40 minutes of play before the hooter sounded for the first stoppage at 10.04am local time.

Play resumed at 11.23am, but ground to a halt again at 12.07pm.

After the first belt of rain, the course had to absorb another 0.5ins after storms the previous day, and the squelch factor increased by a further 0.17ins following more of the same over the lunchtime period. England's Luke Donald and Lee Westwood took advantage of the first break to check out the Euro 2016 England v Wales contest in the media cafeteria area.

Donald, Westwood and former US Open winner Martin Kaymer started off at the 10th tee and their balls were on the green of the par-three, 231-yard 16th when the hooter sounded.

By the time the suspension of play was enforced at 4:40pm, America's Landry, aged 28 and ranked 624 in the world, held the lead at three under par after 17 holes.

Offaly ace Lowry was on level par after 11 holes, and that's where his day ended.

McIlroy, playing alongside Masters champion Danny Willett and Rickie Fowler, got his par on the par-four first hole, but on the next two, he was bunkered off the tee and took bogey on each hole to lie two-over after three holes.

The fourth hole, a 609-yard par-five, afforded McIlroy a chance to use his imagination and class.

A drive and three-wood more than covered the yardage to the green, but he left his ball tucked up in the top left corner of the vast, two-tiered green. With the flagstick placed very close to the slope down to the lower level, and a ridge to negotiate en route to the hole, McIlroy opted to chip the ball.

He did it magnificently, with a rhythmic stroke that elevated the ball then left it to fall and run out to inside three feet, setting up his first birdie of the day.

Two pars followed, but on the seventh, he bogeyed again. McIlroy held his par on the 288-yards par-three eighth before having to halt play for the second time in the round.

When he came back out, a string of three pars suggested the rain delay hadn't affected him too badly only for the world number three to bogey the 12th and 13th before being pulled from the course again.

Jason Day, the pre-tournament favourite, and McDowell were among the large group of 78 players who had to sit and wait as their afternoon tee times kept being pushed back and eventually postponed until today.

It was all so disruptive and all this on a course that can devastate a golfer in an instant at the best of times.

Belfast Telegraph

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