COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (Reuters) - World number two Cristie Kerr and unheralded amateur Amy Anderson held a share of the early lead at the U.S. Women's Open on Thursday after play was suspended for the day because of thunderstorms.
Seasoned veteran Kerr, after 15 holes, and fellow American Anderson, after 12, were level on two under par at The Broadmoor when first-round play was finally called off at 3:12 p.m.
Kerr, who won the 2007 Open at Pine Needles, had just made back-to-back birdies on her 14th and 15th holes of the day before she ended up in a greenside bunker at the par-four seventh, her 16th hole.
At that point, the siren sounded to signal a halt in play. With radar indicating a string of storms coming in over the nearby Rocky Mountains, play was suspended for the day less than three hours later.
"I can't believe they called it (for the day). Shocking," Kerr told reporters. I know there's a lot of stuff in the area, but it gets dark at 8:30 or 9 here.
"It's going to be a domino effect for the rest of the week. Usually they keep you here and try to get in as much (play) as possible. I guess the forecast looks so bad."
Anderson, who has just completed her sophomore season at North Dakota State, suffered an early bout of nerves before displaying good form on the East Course at The Broadmoor.
She recorded two birdies on her front nine and made no bogeys in the 12 holes she completed, allowing her to sleep on a tie for the early lead in her first U.S. Open appearance.
"It's pretty exciting, I wasn't expecting it," Anderson said. I was pretty nervous on the first tee this morning and then settled down.
"I hit my first drive really good and that helped me calm down a little bit. Yeah, first-day leader. That's way more than I could have really imagined."
Title holder Paula Creamer of the U.S. and Taiwan's world number one Yani Tseng, paired in the same group, were among the late starters and did not tee off on Thursday.
The course lived up to its brutally difficult reputation and only five players of the 83 who teed off were under par, including 2008 champion Park In-bee of South Korea, after 17 holes, and Japanese Ai Miyazato, after 15.
Italy's Silvia Cavalleri was also at one under, having birdied the only hole she played -- the par-four 10th.
Nine players were at even par, including twice U.S. Open champion Karrie Webb of Australia after 15 holes.
Only 25 players managed to finish the opening round before play was abandoned for the day, among them 51-year-old Juli Inkster who carded a 74.
Hawaiian Michelle Wie, who has not finished in the top 10 of a major since 2006, was at seven over with one hole remaining. Alexis Thompson, the 16-year-old prodigy from Florida, was at five over after 15 holes.
The first round is scheduled to resume at 7:45 a.m. on Friday.
(Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes/Greg Stutchbury)