A weather warning sign hangs from the leaderboard along 14 at Lancaster Country Club after play was suspended by a thunderstorm Thursday afternoon. (Photo/Blaine Shahan)

Weather suspends play in first round of US Open

Posted: July 9, 2015 1:53 pm

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The U.S Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club officially got underway on Thursday morning. First-round play began with the threesome of Breanna Elliott, Gaby Lopez and Jimin Kang taking the first swings off the tee at Hole No. 1 at 6:45 a.m.

By 8 a.m. the course was already crowded, with flocks of fans following the action, especially those keeping up with Michelle Wie, who teed off at 7:51 a.m. at Hole No. 1. Some fans came prepared with rain jackets and umbrellas, though, and they got a chance to use them.

Oncoming precipitation officially factored in the round at 6:03 Thursday evening, when play was suspended with 56 golfers still on the course as a line of strong storms swept across the region. Play was called for the night at 7:53 p.m.

The National Weather Service earlier in the day had issued a tornado watch for 37 counties — including Lancaster County — until 9 p.m. Shortly after 5:10 p.m., weather warning signs were posted on the scoreboards around the course. Fans were asked to vacate the bleachers, though they were told they could stay on the course if they watched from the grass. Many headed for the exits as the rain began to fall.

The last group of golfers Thursday had teed off at 2:42 p.m. and all were through 11 holes at the time play was suspended. The golfers who must still complete their first round will tee off at 6:45 tomorrow morning. Second-round starting times will be pushed back.

Alex, Webb the early co-leaders

Live scoreboard

Following the morning round, the co-leaders were Marina Alex and two-time Open champion Karrie Webb, who both finished with 4-under rounds of 66. Amy Yang was one stroke behind, with a 3-under.

As Alex holed her last putt for a 66, everyone was surprised. Everyone, except Marina Alex.

“I played pretty well in Arkansas, hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens. I was just trying to feed of that into this week,” Alex said.

Alex brought her ball striking from last week with her in the first round. She missed just one fairway and one green, despite having some long approach shots in.

“I hit five woods into 10 and 11, and I bogeyed 18 but I wasn’t to upset because I know it’s a tough hole,” she said.

Despite length being an issue for Alex, she had no problems with the golf course.

“I thought given the rain and everything, the USGA did a really good job of setting up the course. It was a good length and the hole locations were fair,” Alex said.

Alex will start her second round at 1:03 p.m. Friday from the first tee.

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Wie finishes at 2-over

Michelle Wie opened her U.S Women’s Open title defense with a 2-over 72 at Lancaster Country Club Thursday morning.

“It was kind of a mediocre round,” said Wie, seeking her first LPGA Tour victory since she captured the 2014 U.S. Open crown at Pinehurst last June. “But at the same time, there’s just a lot of good feelings, and I’m excited about the rest of the tournament.

Wie played even through the first nine holes with birdies on three and four.

She went over par on the par-4 11th hole and stayed there as the morning ran into the afternoon.

“To give yourself a good position,” she said, “you have to get it close and make a birdie. Just couldn’t get that going today.”

Wie, battling health and injury issues throughout the season, said she has been feeling more and more comfortable. Despite the admitted “moments” to the contrary, she enjoyed the rush and the atmosphere of teeing off to open the major.

“You always get that exciting feeling in your bones,” Wie said, “when you tee off on the first hole at a U.S. Open.”

More information for fans attending this week’s action:

Click here for traffic and parking details.

Click here to check out the best places from which to watch the action while at Lancaster Country Club.

Click here for the schedule of Thursday’s and Friday’s tee times for all the golfers.

Can’t make it out to the course? Click here to check out where and when to watch the action on TV.

Michelle Wie, motions to the fans asking them to move out of the way, as her tee shot from the 2nd hole flew onto the 9th fairway, during first day action of the 70th US Women's Open at Lancaster Country Club Thursday July 9, 2015. (Photo/Chris Knight)

Michelle Wie, motions to the fans asking them to move out of the way, as her tee shot from the 2nd hole flew onto the 9th fairway, during first day action of the 70th US Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club Thursday July 9, 2015. (Photo/Chris Knight)