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Webb, Alex in lead with 66; Wie cards 72

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Michelle Wie hits on the fourth hole at the U.S. Women's Open golf tournament in Lancaster, Pa., Thursday, July 9, 2015. (Chris Dunn/York Daily Record via AP) YORK DISPATCH OUT

LANCASTER, Pa. >> Atop the leaderboard, veteran Karrie Webb and second-year LPGA Tour player Marina Alex did their best to temper expectations at the U.S. Women’s Open.

Both early starters opened with a 4-under-par 66 on Thursday, and that score held up through the afternoon before things turned wet and windblown. Play was suspended in the early evening after a storm packing high winds, lightning and heavy rain pounded Lancaster Country Club. 

The sudden halt to the action with 55 players needing to complete their rounds — with at least two threatening the lead — left Webb and Alex as unlikely co-leaders.

The USGA’s plan is to restart the first round at 6:45 a.m. Friday local time and begin the second round at 7:15.

Amy Yang was in the clubhouse a shot behind the leaders. Two players on the course were also at 3 under: Na Yeon Choi, the 2012 U.S. Open champion, had three holes to play, while Jane Park had five.

The 40-year-old Webb reeled off four birdies on her second nine holes and finished with her first score in the 60s in a U.S. Open since 2001, when the Australian won the tournament for the second straight year.

This season has been a struggle for the seven-time major champ, who has three top-10 finishes in 14 starts. That all changed Thursday when she hit 14 fairways and 17 of 18 greens. 

“It’s been a test of my patience. I feel like I’ve had some good golf in me,” Webb said.

Alex, playing in her second U.S. Open and first since 2009, was a surprise atop the leaderboard. The 24-year-old from Wayne, N.J., is in her second season on the LPGA Tour. She missed the cut five straight weeks and her best finish was a tie for ninth in Arkansas.

On Thursday, she embraced the championship atmosphere and cheering crowds.

“I’m not a front-runner for this tournament, really,” she said. “So I’m just going to go out there and have fun tomorrow with my caddie and just keep doing the things that we’ve been doing and just see where that puts me.”

Stacey Lewis, who finished second last year, shot a 69, while Lydia Ko opened with 70, and defending champion Michelle Wie, slowed by injury and illness this season, shot a 2-over 72.

Wie had two birdies — both on the front nine — and four bogeys.

Incoming Punahou senior Mariel Galdiano was even through 12 holes when her round was halted.

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