It didn't take long for The Olympic Club to stop some players dead in their tracks Thursday at the U.S. Open.

Under overcast conditions with a chill in the air, Steve Pate got the 98th Open started in fitting fashion - a drive that wandered right and was gobbled up by the wet, clinging rough.But the rough was only half the battle in the early going of the first round.

Payne Stewart's approach on No. 2 barely cleared the bunker and looked like it would stay on the fringe about 20 feet below the cup. He gave his caddie his club, looked back at the green and couldn't believe his eyes.

The ball trickled a few feet, then a few feet more. Before long, he was looking at a 20-yard chip back to the green. He managed to save par.

With 42 players on the course, the bending, slanting fairways were running firm and fast, but no one was going anywhere in a hurry.