Padraig Harrington was saved by the hooter as torrential rain forced officials to suspend the first round of the US Open at Bethpage Black.

It would have taken a miracle of Red Sea proportions to save the day as more than an inch of rain flooded greens and fairways at the Long Island track.

But Harrington, who was four over par and facing a 25 foot putt on the seventh green to avoid going five over, felt that he had been rescued from further disaster.

And he insisted he was not out of the reckoning for a championship that could go on until Monday or even Tuesday given the forecast.

Tied for 62nd place when he came ashore, Harrington said: “If you've started badly, you're delighted to be going off the golf course. I'm starting a new round of golf tomorrow and it doesn't look like this round was going in a very nice direction for me.

“I'm on the back foot, so the best thing for me is to come back fresh tomorrow. I know it's going to be early. It's a new start but for me, I've still got 66 holes of this tournament to go.”

It was a miserable start to his 11th US Open for the reigning Open and US PGA champion but the Dubliner’s recent swing problems did not miraculously cure themselves overnight and on the evidence of his performance so far, he will do well to make the cut.

With afternoon starters Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke left to twiddle their thumbs in the clubhouse before heading home, Graeme McDowell flew the flag for Ireland as he played his first seven holes in one-over par.

The Ulsterman made two early bogeys - at the 11th and 12th - but birdied the par three 14th from 25 feet to lie just two strokes adrift of early leaders Jeff Brehaut, Johan Edfors, Andrew Parr and Ryan Spears.

All 78 of the morning starters managed to get out on the course before the heavens opened with Masters champion Angel Cabrera one of seven players tied for fifth place on level par.

The Argentinian looked likely to struggled as he bogeyed the opening hole alongside Harrington and Tiger Woods but he was the best placed of the trio when the hooter sounded a 10.16 am suspension that became permanent at 2pm

Clarke joked that he was hoping to resist waiting out the storm in the bar but that must have looked like a tempting destination, even for a teetotaller like Harrington after a bitterly disappointing start.

The Dubliner hit a perfect drive down the left hand side of the first before Woods almost hooked his effort into the merchandise tent, 40 yards wide of the left to right dogleg.

The world No 1 was so far left that he missed the deep rough by 25 yards, drawing a good lie on the area trodden down by the fans.

As Cabrera found the left rough and hacked his next effort just 50 yards up the fairway and Harrington three-putted from nearly 60 feet, Woods found greenside sand with his approach, splashed out to seven feet and swept in the putt for par.

Harrington had left his long distance birdie putt close to six feet short and he pulled his par effort wide to drop a shot at the very first hurdle.

Struggling to control his distance with his irons, the triple major winner had to two-putt from nearly 50 feet for his par at the second and close to 70 feet at the par-three third.

He was swinging mechanically and bogeyed the par-five fourth when he drove into heavy rough on the left and had to hack his way back into play.

Choosing a hybrid for his third, he overshot the green and played a wonderful pitch to just four and a half feet but failed to covert the putt.

Harrington added: “It's all about momentum in the bad weather but starting with a three-putt and then dropping a shot from nowhere, all of a sudden I'm two‑over par and I haven't played quite well and I'm trying to figure out, how am I going to get back in this; how am I going to make some birdies and recover.”

Volunteers out in force with squeegees and water hogs to try and remove water from the greens and landing areas.

But it was Harrington who was leaking more than the heavens as he followed that bogey six at the fourth with a double bogey six at the fifth after hooking his tee shot into the trees.

It was no consolation that Woods also double bogeyed the hole after carving his drive into the rough and then bunkering his third.

The world No 1 birdied the sixth from 12 feet to get back to one over par but he was facing a difficult up and down from sand at the seventh where Harrington was in trouble again.

After another bad drive into the trees - on the right this time - he chopped his way back into play but went long with his third shot and was left with a lengthy par putt of at least 25 feet.