And hardly anyone noticed.
As 17-year-old Michelle Wie continued her free fall and 12-year-old Alexis Thompson played carefree until it was too dark to continue, LPGA Tour rookie Angela Park, 18, birdied her first three holes and hung on for a 3-under 68, leaving her in the lead in the first round for the second straight major.
No rain touched the turf at Pine Needles, but play was suspended for 3 1/2 hours because of lightning in the area, allowing only the morning batch of 78 players to finish the round.
Thompson, the youngest qualifier in U.S. Women's Open history, three-putted the 18th green for a bogey that put her at 3 over par after nine holes, a respectable start considering she played the tougher back nine first. Wie went off early, and fell off the map quickly. She hit only four fairways, matched her highest score in a Women's Open with an 82, and offered an assessment that was hard to grasp.
'It's just a very fine line between shooting 69 and shooting what I shot today,' said Wie, who stretched her streak to 21 rounds without breaking par.
She wasn't the only one who struggled.
Karrie Webb, a seven-time major champion who won the U.S. Women's Open the last time it was played at Pine Needles in 2001, failed to make a birdie and walked off with an 83, her highest score on the LPGA Tour.
'I have no excuses. I'm not that kind of player,' Webb said. 'Do you think I had any idea I'd shoot 83? It was a terrible round, one of the worst days of my career.'
Three players were at 2 under at various points on Pine Needles -- In-Bee Park (16 holes), Jee Young Lee (12) and Karine Icher (10).
Defending champion Annika Sorenstam was at even par through 13 holes.
Park also was tied for the lead at the LPGA Championship after one round, eventually finishing fifth.
'Maybe this week will be different,' said Park, who was born in Brazil to South Korean parents and grew up in California.
She played in the morning, when Pine Needles was soft from overnight rain and the wind hadn't begun to rustle the pines, and she quickly fired off three straight birdies. Park was at 4 under most of the round until hitting a tee shot into the trees on the 17th, pitching out and missing a 25-foot par putt.
Park played before hardly any gallery, most of them watching Wie self-destruct again. Time and again, the Hawaii teenager posed on a shot, only to have the club slide through her hands as she realized the shot was off its mark.
'I know I'm a better player than this,' Wie said.
Par became a premium, but it was hardly a dull day. Lorena Ochoa, the No. 1 player seeking her first major, holed out for eagle from 195 yards in a bunker, only to have luck turn against her when a shot over the green bounced through two grandstands, across the road and out-of-bounds, leading to double bogey.
She was at even-par 71, along with Brittany Lincicome.
Laura Davies holed out for eagle on the eighth hole, but was 1 over through 14.
Ochoa and Morgan Pressel were full of smiles when they walked off Pine Needles at even par.
'I'm doing good so far,' Ochoa said. 'Playing in a U.S. Open, it's always good to be around par.'
She got there in the most peculiar fashion.
Ochoa was hitting fairways and greens, always a good recipe at this tournament, when she found a fairway bunker on the 14th and had 195 yards to the hole. She figured her caddie wanted her to hit 7-wood, but Ochoa wanted a 5-wood.
'I had a really good feeling,' she said. 'I said, 'Just trust me, I like this one.' And I hit it perfect.'
She heard the crowd cheer when it hit the green, and it got louder as the ball approached the cup, dropping for eagle.
'It was very special,' Ochoa said.
A good break turned into a rotten one on the 440-yard 17th, when Ochoa was one shot out of the lead. She hit a 7-wood that jumped out of the rough and sailed over the green. But instead of banging off the grandstand, it shot through the two sets of bleachers, bounding over the pine needles, crossing a small path and settling just beyond the out-of-bounds stakes.
'A little bit of bad luck,' Ochoa said. 'But nothing you can do, and I'm really happy with my round.'
Pressel was happy when she woke up, reached down to feel her ankle and felt no swelling. She was limping Wednesday from a spider bite, but there was that typical spring in her step at this championship, and she was steady as ever. She recovered from consecutive bogeys early in her round and was right where she wanted to be.
Wie, however, looked as though she wanted to be anywhere but Pine Needles. Even after she rapped in a 2-foot par putt for her 82nd stroke of the round, she barely mustered a smile.
It was similar to the 83 she shot in the third round at the LPGA Championship, where she finished in last place by 10 shots with her highest 72-hole score as an amateur or a pro. She played without a brace on her left wrist, and her injury seemed to be the least of her worries the way she slashed out of the Bermuda rough, often the case from hitting only four fairways.
'All I need is the confidence to play well,' she said. 'And I just need to see one round where all my shots are where I want them to be. Then after that, it's a done deal. I just need to see it.'
But she also seemed to be in denial that her game is in disrepair. It was her 21st consecutive round without breaking par against men or women, and tied her highest score in the U.S. Women's Open. She also shot 82 in the final round at Cherry Hills two years ago.
'It's very frustrating because I know I played better than this,' Wie said.