Playing in the U.S. Open is an enormous challenge for even the top professionals in golf. Playing 36 holes in your U.S. Open debut at Oakmont Country Club is a monumental task.
That’s what New Hartford graduate Derek Bard faces Friday at the 2016 U.S. Open. Continuous storms delayed action three times Thursday, before the first round was officially suspended for the day at about 4:30 p.m.
Only three groups finished their first rounds Thursday and 78 players, including Bard, didn’t begin play. Andrew Landry is 3-under through 17 holes and sits atop the leaderboard. Amateur Scottie Scheffler finished at 1-under (69) and is the leader among the nine players who finished their rounds.
Bard’s mental toughness will certainly be tested Friday.
“It is tough,” Bard said. “But you just gotta stay patient. I was at the course today and hit some putts and chips just to do something. Tomorrow will be 36 so it will be a long day. Again, I just need an extreme amount of patience. 36 at Oakmont is a grind, no matter what kind of condition the course is in. But I accept that, and will have to go out and focus on what I can control.”
The players who go out early Friday morning should face a tamed Oakmont as the rain will make it much easier to hold the fairways and greens. However, the softness could also force players to hit more drivers.
“I may be able to get a little more aggressive with some pins,” Bard said. “But it’s still a U.S. Open. It’s hard. I cannot get over aggressive, because that’s when it will backfire. I’ll have pretty much the same game plan.”
The weather looks good for Friday afternoon and the weekend, so the course will definitely speed up as the tournament progresses. Bard is expected to tee off his first round at 8:44 a.m. He’s scheduled to begin his second round at 2:29 p.m.