ST. LOUIS — The first round of the BMW Championship was washed out by steady rain that deluged Bellerive Country Club on Thursday, another setback for a tournament plagued by bad timing.

The opening round will be Friday, with 36 holes scheduled for Saturday to get it back on schedule.

"It's under water," said Slugger White, vice president of rules and competition for the PGA Tour. "It's as bad as I've seen in a long time."

The PGA Tour returned to Bellerive for the first time since 2001, when a World Golf Championship was canceled because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The 2004 U.S. Senior Open lost a day because of rain, and the one time Arnold Palmer played a Champions Tour event, rain caused such traffic problems that most fans couldn't even get to the course.

This, too, was out of anyone's control.

"We have swollen creeks that are turning into lakes," White said.

He said the forecast was for the storm system to end Thursday afternoon, giving the tournament staff about 20 hours to prepare the course for the first round. White said they did not want 36 holes Friday to keep a soaked course from getting damaged by too much play.

The third round was to end at 2:30 p.m. Saturday because of NBC Sports' contract with Notre Dame football.

"Now, we can give the fans and the community an extra five hours to watch golf," White said.

The BMW Championship is the third event in the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedEx Cup, with Vijay Singh holding such a large lead that he could wrap up the title before the season-ending Tour Championship.

Singh won the first two events at The Barclays and Deutsche Bank Championship.