Wednesday, June 12

Stormy Start Ahead at Merion

Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods at Merion on Wednesday. (©USGA/Darren Carroll)


IF ONLY IT COULD STAY LIKE THIS. By this, I mean sunny, warm, breezy. Merion Golf Club is gorgeous this afternoon, 80 degrees, a light wind drying out these golf wetlands. But, alas, the weather is supposed to take another dramatic turn on Thursday. More on that in a moment.

I took a walk a little while ago along the 16th, 15th, 14th and 11th holes. The ground underfoot is damp, even wet, in places, but it's also surprisingly dry at the surface where the thick, lush grass that borders the fairways is growing before one's eyes. Or so it seems. I reached down to brush the grass in spots. It's not wet. If the rain could stay away for a few days, this 113th U.S. Open might not be overly influenced by soggy turf.

The weather forecast is ominous, though. The early morning USGA update said this: "Showers to our west today will clip us at times tonight and Thursday morning before potentially severe storms march through Thursday afternoon. Strong winds Thursday night will help usher in drier air for Friday."

Merion, what I've seen of it, looks immaculate. The rough will be a serious issue. It it tall. It is thick. And, with more rain likely, it will be wet. A trip into the rough will cost a stroke or more. Ernie Els said a player can figure on advancing the ball about 120 to 140 yards out of the rough, at best.

Players: DO NOT GO INTO THE ROUGH.

They will, of course. The ones who visit the rough the least will be the names you see on the leaderboard.

Tomorrow I hope we're talking about the 150-plus players and their starts after all the pre-championship buildup, but I'm afraid much of the conversation will be about the weather. A wicked storm is bearing down on poor Merion from the west.

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