Even in a reduced state, the South Course can still be a beast.

Throw in a couple of late afternoon weather delays after a beautiful morning, and you could sense the frustration levels rise above Firestone Country Club during Thursday's opening round of the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship.

Unless your name was Steve Stricker.

Already a two-time major winner on the 50-and-over circuit, Stricker was 140 yards away from finishing his round and riding the euphoria of a hole-in-one when inclement weather interrupted play at 12:55 p.m.

At that point. the reigning U.S. Senior Open champ was at 5 under and seemingly on his way to a round of 65 and the first-round lead. Play was suspended for the day at 4:07 p.m.

Stricker's finish will have to wait for Friday, when play resumes at 7 a.m., with his second round scheduled to start at 1:03 p.m.

His nearest competitor is Ken Duke, who shot 69 after gaining entry into the tournament early Thursday when Fred Funk withdrew with a bad back. Duke, one of 17 players in the field who had not played at Firestone in a PGA Tour event, was the only player in the clubhouse under par.

The good news is that the inclement weather that hampered Thursday’s play like an impetuous youngster at Sunday mass has cleared. The forecast for the rest of the week should be as smooth as a Fred Couples swing.

Only 15 of the 78 players in the field were able to complete their round and only 11 were under par. Even when shortened by approximately 265 yards, the South Course still has an edge.

“It’s still as hard as I remember,” Jay Haas said during Wednesday’s pro-am. He was one of nine players at 1 under after getting through 15 holes.

Friday will be a long day for everyone, even for those who had finished. It will be longer for those who barely got started, a list that includes Michael Allen, who won the Senior PGA Championship at Canterbury Golf Club in 2009 in his first Champions Tour start.

“I don’t know if I can walk 33 holes in one day,” said Allen, who was even after three holes and is playing on a tender knee. “I mean, all of us have aches and pains. We’re 60. It was frustrating. You just want to go out and play.”

Stricker, second on the Champions Tour money list, felt the frustration.

“Yeah, it’s hard for anybody no matter what your age is,” he said. “It makes for a long day. You’re going to make sure you get your rest whenever you can. Even when I was younger on tour, you have days like this.”

It was even more frustrating as he was close to finishing.

“Bummed that we didn’t get to finish because that meant we could have slept in a little bit and now we’ll have to get out here just to hit that shot and hopefully just one putt,” said Stricker, who ran away from the field with a record-setting performance in winning the U.S. Senior Open by 6 shots June 30 in Notre Dame, Ind.

“And then we won’t tee off until one o’clock. Maybe [I’ll] go back ... and I don’t know what we’ll do. Kill time, eat breakfast a few times or something. Yeah, it would have been nice to finish.”

His start was nice as he birdied the first two holes and had run off four consecutive pars when he stepped on the tee on the 184-yard No. 7.

After dropping from a 6-iron to a 7, Stricker's tee shot caught a slight breeze, landed about four steps to the right and short of the hole and rolled into the cup at a high rate of speed.

“We had a 6-iron to start with, then some breeze came up a little bit and I knew the 6-iron was borderline, a little bit too much,” he said. “With that breeze we felt that the 7-iron was going to be the right club. It just disappeared. That’s always something very unexpected; you don’t see that very often. That was a good way to start, with a couple birdies at 1 and 2 and then making a 1 at No. 7.”

Stricker, who had four top-10 finishes in nine starts at Firestone on the regular tour and shot a 6-under 64 in the final round of the 2012 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, also had key par saves at Nos. 10 and 12.

“Those were huge,” he said. “Anytime you have a good round going you don’t want to give anything back. So, those are big saves and key saves in the whole scheme of things.”

Stricker’s ace was the 15th in tournament history, but the first of Stricker’s Champions career.