By petedirenzo
Thursday, June 18, 2009

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — At 1 p.m. today, the scene at Bethpage Black's 18th hole epitomized the first (partial) round of the 2009 U.S. Open. Streams of water crisscrossed the fairway like white ribbons. The green resembled a giant teacup, ready to spill. The heartiest fans, refusing to go home, crammed into tunnels under the grandstands, munching on their hot dogs and chips. And the players? Nowhere to be found. Fans-bethpage-usopen-umb Then there was Anthony Diablo, a goateed lawyer from New Jersey, sitting steadfast in the bleachers, "shielded" from the driving rain by a flimsy orange poncho and a black-and-white golf umbrella. “They’re saying there’s still a chance they’ll come back out, so I’ll sit it out,” said Diablo, shivering. He was speaking of the players, who were mostly in the Bethpage clubhouse, waiting out a stoppage of play. But the players didn’t resurface. At 1:55 p.m., the tournament was officially suspended for the day, and the spectators were officially dejected. “Pain in the a--,” said a state trooper, posted near a guard rail by the 18th green. “Simple as that.” He no doubt spoke for the drenched masses on this miserable Thursday — yet another sodden day in a month that in this part of the country has produced just four rain-free days. New Yorkers are a gritty bunch, but as thousands upon thousands of U.S. Open spectators filed out to the shuttle buses this afternoon, they looked more run-down than resilient.“I saw two shots, maybe three,” said Debra Stein, 68, who lives in the Hamptons but grew up in nearby Hicksville. Stein said she and her husband arrived at the course just after 9:30 a.m., were in the 17th-hole bleachers by 10 a.m., and just a few minutes later the horn sounded, ceasing play. Per USGA policy, Stein’s $100 ticket won't be refunded or honored when play resumes tomorrow. “Yeah, I heard that,” she said glumly. What is it about rain at Bethpage? When the U.S. Open came here seven years ago, Friday was a washout. On Sunday, lightning flashes late in the day halted play and emptied grandstands. Hunki Yun, the editor of Links magazine, played high school golf on Long Island, including some 20 tournament rounds at Bethpage. “It must have rained during 15 of them,” he said today. Some fans tried to make the best of the slop. Near the clubhouse, a trio of rambunctious teens turned a sodden slope into a Slip ’n Slide — much to the delight of dozens of fans trekking past. “Yeah, U.S. Open!” one of the kids yelled. A soaked cameraman for the New York station WPIX wandered by and asked them do the stunt again. (They did.) At the concession stands, groups of tournament-goers huddled together, sipping suds under their umbrellas. Even photographers endured, first snapping action shots of the players, then of the squeegee-ing grounds crew, then of the saturated spectators. As for the bar scene in the corporate tents? As lively ever, it seemed. "Nothing wrong with drunk and dry," said a grinning fan who had stepped outside of his tent to get a glimpse of the water-logged 18th fairway. Needless to say his field trip didn't last long.(Photo: Robert Beck/SI)

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