OAKMONT, Pa. — Andrew Landry was within 10 feet of finishing the round of his life, which was saying something. He once shot 58 on Pea Patch, a course in Texas. Granted, that layout was much shorter and less menacing than Oakmont Country Club. “But,” he said recently, “58 is 58.”
By the same token, leading the U.S. Open is leading the U.S. Open, even if the first round was not nearly done and did not even begin for half the field. Thunderstorms halted play three times on Thursday and ultimately stopped it late in the afternoon, with Landry facing a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 9, his final hole of a long day.
The 28-year-old PGA Tour rookie, ranked No. 624 in the world, had a stirring performance and only reluctantly left the Oakmont course at 3 under par. He was one shot ahead of Bubba Watson and Danny Lee when the U.S. Golf Association suspended the round.
“I heard thunder when we were in the fairway. Then I hit a good shot in there,” Landry said. “We kind of had a little bit of a wait there with a fellow competitor. I was trying to get it in. We were trying really hard.”
But the horn sounded and everyone was required to stop because conditions were deemed too dangerous. “It’s the U.S. Open,” Landry said. “So you’ve just got to stay patient with it.”
That goes for everyone in the 156-player field, particularly the afternoon wave, which never did get to hit a shot. The good news for all concerned is that pleasant weather is forecast for the next three days.
Technically, the leader in the clubhouse — the one with the best completed round — is Scottie Scheffler, a 19-year-old amateur born in Ridgewood, N.J. whose caddie is his sister Callie, a golfer on the Texas A & M women’s team. He hustled in before the worst of the weather with a 1-under-par 69. “The experience is — I can’t really describe it right now,” he said. “But I didn’t really let the magnitude of what’s going on get to me. Once we got on the course, I was fine.”
Scheffler is the first amateur to break 70 at Oakmont since Vinny Giles in the second round of the 1973 U.S. Open. Still, the player who took the notoriously tough course by storm was Landry, a native of Port Neches-Groves, Texas and winner at a Web.com tournament in Colombia last year. He never has been in a U.S. Open before.
“I’m just playing really well, but it’s a long time coming,” said the man who regrets the fact that Pea Patch is now closed. When the Open at Oakmont was halted the first time on Thursday, he was 3 under. At the second delay, he was 5 under, with a seven-footer for birdie on No. 5. There was speculation that he had a chance for 7 under, matching Johnny Miller’s record 63 in 1973.
Landry just tried to relax. “Had my phone off the whole time. It was good to just kind of be by myself and take it all in,” he said, unruffled after having missed his birdie on 5 and bogeyed 7 and 8.
He and the other golfers acknowledged that the soft, wet course was much different than the hard, fast track for which they had prepared. Said Kevin Streelman, who is 1 under with two holes to play, “It’s going to take someone who is a chameleon to be able to adjust, and there are some birdies to be made, but the trouble’s still out there.”