U.S. Open organizers were preparing for the likelihood of further rain and thunderstorms as the 116th edition of the year's second major got underway at the treacherous Oakmont Country Club on Thursday.
Under clear skies, sectional qualifier Danny McCarthy struck the first shot on the par-four opening hole and fellow American Andres Gonzales began proceedings at the 10th to launch the ninth U.S. Open to be played on the iconic par-70 layout.
More than an inch of rain had drenched the course overnight and there was an 80 percent chance of thunderstorms later on Thursday before conditions are expected to improve over the next three days.
Northern Ireland's world number three Rory McIlroy was among the early starters, having been grouped with Masters champion Danny Willett of England and fifth-ranked American Rickie Fowler in one of the more eye-catching trios of the day.
McIlroy and company were scheduled to tee off from the first at 8:24 a.m. ET (1224 GMT).
Fans have several other exciting groupings to watch in the early morning, among them, defending champion Jordan Spieth and fellow Americans Zach Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau.
32 COURSES EVERY GOLFER NEEDS TO PLAY:
32 golf courses every golfer should play in their lifetime (BI)
32 golf courses every golfer should play in their lifetime (BI)
One of the world’s oldest and most iconic golf courses, the Old Course at St Andrews in Scotland can be a challenge for even the best of golfers. The course has been played since the 15th century, and despite its fame, it remains open to the public.
At Mauritius' Ile aux Cerfs Golf Club, players can enjoy a championship golf course set on a stunning private island. The course covers 38 hectares of the island and includes nine lakes, making for a challenging game.
Yas Links, located in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, was the first links golf course to open in the Middle East. The semi-private golf club offers paid memberships, but it also welcomes daily guests, who can play a round while enjoying dramatic views of the Arabian Gulf.
At Port Royal in Southhampton, Bermuda, players get views of the water from nearly every hole. The 16th hole, which is played from a tee on a cliff edge, is unforgettable.
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Old Head Golf Links in County Cork, Ireland, is built on 220 acres of land that jut out into the Atlantic Ocean. Players will feel as though they’re enjoying a game on their own island, with numerous caves that run beneath the course and acres of unspoiled cliff that frame it.
Sandy Lane has been a popular Caribbean resort with the wealthy for years, and its Green Monkey course is available exclusively to its guests. The course, which was designed by Tom Fazio, has dramatic elevation changes and spectacular views out to the sea.
At the Legend Golf & Safari Resort in the Limpopo Province of South Africa, players can challenge themselves to the Extreme 19, the world’s longest par 3 course. It's set atop the Hanglip Mountain and accessed via helicopter.
Wolf Creek Golf Club, located in Mesquite, Nevada, is often featured on best-of-golfing lists thanks to its unique canyon setting. Players are spoiled with 360-degree views, various elevation changes, and lush fairways amidst the rugged terrain.
Providing players with ocean views, wide-open vistas, cliffside fairways, and sloping greens, California’s Pebble Beach Golf Links is often ranked as America’s best public course. Jack Nicklaus once said that if he had to choose only one more round to play, it would be here.
Muirfield, which opened in 1744, is home to the world’s oldest golfing society, the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. Located in Gullane, Scotland, Muirfield has hosted various championships throughout the years, and is a favorite for those who like a challenging game.
The Cape Kidnappers golf course, designed by legendary golf architect Tom Doak, features narrow fairways perched 460 feet above the Pacific Ocean in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. The course is a challenge for golfers of all skill levels, and its breathtaking setting only adds to its appeal.
For a game unlike any other, head to the Himalayan Golf Course in Pokhara, Nepal. Once you arrive, you'll find a stunning natural amphitheater with mountain views and a river that runs right through the course.
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The North Star Golf Club in Fairbanks, Alaska, is the northernmost golf course in America, and includes a property that is underlain by permafrost to create a continuously changing pattern of dips and mounds. Plus, there's a pretty good chance you'll run into several wildlife species during your game.
The Princeville Makai Golf Course in Princeville, Hawaii, was designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. and includes stunning views over Hanalei Bay at its signature 7th hole. The course is also one of the first to offer players GolfBoards — vehicles that are designed to make players feel as though they are surfing through the terrain.
Play a round at the world's lowest elevation golf course at the Furnace Creek Golf Course, located in Death Valley National Park in California. At 214 below sea level, the course includes majestic mountain views.
The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, requires a good amount of strategic thinking, with many holes framed around the lake. It's also known for its infamous 17th hole, which is set on an island green.
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The Nullarbor Links was implemented to increase tourism along Australia’s Eyre Highway, and it has since become the world's longest golf course. The 18-hole course spans about 4.48 million feet, with its holes situated in participating towns along the highway from Kalgoorlie to Ceduna.
The Coeur d'Alene Resort in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, is known for its floating green on the 14th hole. The course is located about a mile away from the resort, but guests are transported there via mahogany boats.
The par-72 championship golf course at Kauri Cliffs, located in Matauri Bay, New Zealand, offers players five sets of tees and fifteen holes with views of the Pacific Ocean, six of which are played alongside cliffs hovering over the sea. Players can also access a world-class practice range, putting and chipping greens, a golf shop, and rental clubs at the golf complex.
Augusta National Golf Club is home to the US Masters. Alister MacKenzie and Bobby Jones did the original routing, but since then the course has been altered by the likes of Perry Maxwell, Trent Jones, Jack Nicklaus, and Tom Fazio. In 2012, the exclusive course let in its first women members, Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore.
The magnificent Ocean Course is located at the easternmost end of Kiawah Island in South Carolina. The course has more seaside holes than any other in the Northern Hemisphere, and players are treated to views of the Atlantic Ocean at every hole.
The Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Black Rock, Victoria, dates back to 1891, and its West Course is regarded as one of the finest in Australia. Its highlights include bold bunkering and some of the fastest greens in the world.
(Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
Pine Valley Golf Club in Pine Valley, New Jersey, is often ranked as one of the world's best golf courses thanks to its stunning design and its incorporation of scrub pines, natural sands, and trees. Robert Trent Jones wrote that it has more classic holes than any other course in the world.
The Royal Portrush Golf Club in County Antrim, Ireland, includes two links courses: Dunluce Links (home to unbelievably rough and testing greens) and the lesser-known Valley Links. Portrush is the only club in Ireland to have hosted The Open Championship.
Located on the southern Oregon coast, Pacific Dunes is regarded as one of the best at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort and in the world. The 16th hole is a real gem, with its short par four and sloping green. The course includes rippling fairways, spectacular 60-foot sand dunes, and shore pines that make for an exciting game.
There’s a reason why so many of the major championships in the US take place at the Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. The course features some of the fastest greens and most strategic bunkering you can find.
Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, New York, dates back to 1891 and boasts the oldest clubhouse in the US. Its course utilizes the rolling terrain of the south shore to offer players variety and excitement.
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
The course at Sand Hills in Mullen, Nebraska, was dubbed “the most natural golf course in America” by Golf Digest. The links-style course includes 19 holes that emerge from rolling sand hills, with challenging holes shaped by natural sand traps.
Hirono Golf Club is often considered the best course in Japan and has hosted several major Japanese tournaments. The course has spectacular bunkering, ranging from diagonal cross bunkers to ragged-edged bunkers.
Spieth, seeking his third major title after clinching his first at the 2015 Masters, will aim to rebound from his stunning back-nine collapse at Augusta this year when he threw away the title after leading by five strokes with nine holes to play.
Jason Day, the Australian world number one and winner of last year's PGA Championship, has a late scheduled start time of 2:20 p.m. in a pairing with compatriot Adam Scott and South African Louis Oosthuizen.
In other notable groupings, former world number ones Lee Westwood and Luke Donald of England and Germany's Martin Kaymer have been put together, while Japan's Hideki Matsuyama will play with Spaniard Sergio Garcia and long-hitting American Dustin Johnson.
Fan favorite Phil Mickelson, a runner-up in his national championship a record six times without ever winning the title, will start out with 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose of England and Sweden's Henrik Stenson.