Phil Mickelson was holding onto his lead at the US Open on Friday even without playing a shot as the early second-round starters failed to make up ground on the American crowd favorite.
Mickelson shot a three-under par 67 on Thursday and was yet to tee off on Friday due to the more than four hours of play that were lost to bad weather.
In the meantime, the East course at Merion Golf Club continued to exact revenge on those who had predicted record low scores, as only three players out of the 156 starters were under par by mid-afternoon.
One of those was Mickelson, while the others were England's Luke Donald, who was at two under for the tournament with six holes to play, and Belgium's Nicolas Colsaerts, who also had a late start.
Former world number one Donald did briefly poke his nose in front at four under at one point, but like most of the field he found it hard going on the firmer fairways and greens, with bogeys at 15, two and four to go with a birdie at the third.
In the storm-interrupted first round, Donald entered those holes on a run of three birdies in a row that ended when darkness fell Thursday after storm delays of more than four hours and 15 minutes.
On Friday morning, Donald took bogeys at 16 and 18, unable to accurately judge the speed of the greens on his first trip through the key stretch on his way to an opening two-under par 68. “I misread both putts,” Donald said.
“I thought they were slightly right to left and they broke well left. I thought I had that one at 18.”
But Donald, whose seven career top-10s at majors do not include a US Open, was in position to improve upon his best US Open finish, a share of 12th in 2006 with nine holes to finish in his second round.
Beast of a course
Only five players broke par in the first round on a 6,996-yard course that played like a beast and swatted aside a host of failed challengers, including world number one Tiger Woods.
Woods birdied the par-3 13th but took a bogey at the 14th to stand 3-over after finishing off a first-round 73 in the morning that included six bogeys, the last at the 17th.
“Overall it was not too bad a round. The round could have easily been under par,” Woods said. “I left myself quite a few putts in there where they were easily makeable and I didn’t make any.”
Woods, seeking a record-tying fourth US Open title and his 15th major crown, has not won a major title since the 2008 US Open. “My left arm didn’t feel very good on a few shots,” Woods said.