FARMINGDALE, N.Y. - This is why the folks at Wimbledon put that retractable roof over Centre Court.
You can put in all the time and effort you want trying to get a golf course in shape to host a U.S. Open. But if the weather gods don't feel like doing their part, none of the preparation matters.
Take yesterday's attempt to get the second major of the season going at Bethpage Black, for example. Please. The forecast called for rain. For once, unfortunately, the meteorologists got it right. You knew this was in trouble when squeegees were being used to clear the greens of standing water long before ESPN's coverage began at 10 a.m.
The conditions went downhill from there. It looked like a British Open. Only difference is, they usually figure out a way to slog through the nastiness over there.
Play was suspended at 10:15. The USGA said it was hopeful the championship could resume in midafternoon. Never happened. Instead, at 1:55 everyone was told to call it a day.
Seventy-eight players actually posted scores. Nobody made it past the 11th hole. Four were leading, at 1-under-par, though you've probably never heard of any of them. Tiger Woods was 1-over par through six, facing a 10-foot putt for par at No. 7. He started with four pars, took a double bogey at 5 and made birdie at 6.
"We played more holes than we thought," Woods said. "I knew it was going to be tough, and it was. [But] it was a good decision to start."
He is, of course, the defending champion. He also won the other Open held here, in 2002.
The game plan is to resume the first round at 7:30 this morning, and start what were supposed to be yesterday's afternoon tee times at 10. Round 2 is now scheduled for 4 p.m. Where they go from there is anybody's projection. The forecast for tomorrow is pretty much the same as it was for yesterday. Just in case it comes to that, next week isn't looking too favorable, either.
At least there supposedly is a window showing up on the Doppler screen for today. Keep everything crossed.
Mike Davis, who is in charge of course setup, said at this point the "perfect scenario" is to complete the second round tomorrow and finish with 36 holes on Sunday. And he acknowledged even that's "not looking terribly promising." The USGA won't crown a national champion until 72 holes have been completed. And, like last June, there could be an 18-hole playoff to deal with. NBC must be cringing.
Even under ideal circumstances, this traditionally is the longest week on the golf calendar. The weather just made it worse.
In case you had forgotten, the weather didn't exactly cooperate here 7 years ago. But the only stoppage occurred on Sunday, which forced Woods to make his acceptance speech in near-darkness.
"It's very frustrating that we're not getting able to see the true Bethpage," Davis said. "The question is just how playable the golf course is. The goal is to play as much golf as we can on any given day."
The last time weather delayed an Open was 2004 at Shinnecock Hills, on the eastern end of Long Island, when the opening round was disrupted by a thunderstorm and later called because of fog. That was also the last time an Open round was not completed on the day it started.
Excluding playoffs, there were only two times in Open history when weather delays forced the tournament into an extra day of play. The last was 1983, at Oakmont, when five groups had to finish their final rounds on Monday.
The 2005 PGA at Baltusrol was the last time any major had its final round conclude on a Monday.
Hey, as long as the media tent doesn't have to be evacuated . . .
This area received almost twice as much rain as normal in the month or so preceding this event. This time, a little more than another inch fell.
"It does drain very well naturally," Davis said. "The only place you need to do it a little unnaturally is down on that 18th fairway area [which is built on a swamp]. It's not to the point where it's so waterlogged that we're not going to be able to play golf at some juncture when it stops raining.
"It's been the putting greens that really stopped play. It was not the 18th fairway. The greens just became unplayable."
Jeff Brehaut is one of the four at 1-under. Starting on No. 10, he managed to get in 11 holes.
"This is a bit overwhelming," said Brehaut, who just turned 46 and is playing in his second Open (tied for 17th in 2007). "It happened very quickly, where the course was playable and then all of a sudden it wasn't. We all looked at each other and said [these greens] can't handle it anymore. They were squeegeeing [the water] off and it was coming straight back up. But even after it had rained, they were still quicker than they were on Monday and Tuesday . . . It's not typical golf.
"Obviously, we'd all like to be playing in 80 degrees and sunny. But my wife's been telling me the last 3 days, 'Embrace your conditions.' Everybody's got to play it. It's not what any of us wants to deal with. But they're still going to give out a trophy. I think."
Barring something unforeseen, she is not expected to go into labor until early next week. *