Ian Poulter failed to build on a red-hot start to his US Open campaign as he opened with a one-over 71 at Merion.
The Ryder Cup star started at the 11th and raced into the lead with birdies at each of his first three holes before approaching thunderstorms forced play to be suspended.
The three-and-a-half hour delay had an adverse effect on the Englishman as he returned to bogey the 14th after a poor drive, although he got back on track at the next.
But he dropped shots at 17 and 18 and slipped back to level par with a bogey at the fourth before making a bigger mess of the fifth, where he ran up an ugly double-bogey six.
Poulter halted the slide with his fifth birdie of the round at the eighth before parring in to remain four shots off the clubhouse lead, and he then hit out at those who had predicted a glut of birdies on a short layout.
"I think people in that commentary box have never given this golf course enough respect," said Poulter.
"They were joking around laughing at 63s and 62s and just look at the board. I mean they need to respect this golf course. It's brutal.
"The long holes are severely long. Yes, we're making birdies on those short holes, but look what we have to contend with out there on those long holes. It's not easy."
Fellow Englishman Justin Rose did well to match Poulter's score after slumping to four over with five to play.
The world No 5 salvaged respectability with three birdies in his final five holes, while Paul Casey returned a mixed bag of a card in his 73.
Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington was also three over for the opening round, while big-hitting Scot Martin Laird managed just one birdie in an erratic 74 - the same score as BMW PGA Championship runner-up Simon Khan.