Tiger Woods emerged from the fog and perhaps in his head too – to make the perfect start to the final major of the season.
But when conditions eventually cleared, the world number one – a shocking joint 78th out of 80 in last week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio – birdied his first two holes.
Two under par after two was a massive improvement on 18 over par after 72 in Akron – and it instantly made him part of a seven-way tie for the lead.
Only for a few seconds, though, as German Martin Kaymer, in the group ahead, followed an eagle at the long 11th with a birdie on the next.
Woods, needing a top 15 finish to have a chance of automatic selection for the United States’ Ryder Cup team, sank a 12-foot putt on the 361-yard 10th and then holed from eight at the 618-yard next.
Both were accompanied by a huge roar from a crowd eager to see him return to former glories after a troubled year on and off the course following damaging revelations of extra-marital affairs.
England’s Luke Donald also birdied the 10th and remained one under after five, but both compatriot Paul Casey and Ireland’s Padraig Harrington – both outside qualifying positions on Europe’s Ryder Cup table with three weeks to go in that race – ran up bogey sixes at the 11th.
Scot Stephen Gallacher was the first European onto the spectacular course on the edge of Lake Michigan. He bogeyed the third, but came back with a birdie on the long fifth, while his fellow countryman Martin Laird bogeyed the first, but made two at the 181-yard third.
Alongside Woods on two under were Stuart Appleby, Jason Day, Aberdeen-born Michael Sim and Dane Soren Kjeldsen.
The length of the delay made it touch and go whether the first round would be completed before nightfall.
Ian Poulter, another morning starter, had made an important decision on his clubs. Poulter had practised with a new set of irons after his usual ones fell off a golf buggy and were dragged along a path.
The faces were unaffected, but because of the scuff marks at the bottom the world number 10 gave himself the option before the event.
“I’m going to go with the old ones. I don’t like looking down at them so much now, but just know how they behave,” he said.