US Open officials brace for rain-soaked opening
US Open officials have contingency plans if any holes at Merion Golf Club are made unplayable by heavy rains in the Philadelphia area, but are confident the course will drain sufficiently for the championship.
Several fairways were flooded by torrential downpours that followed a dumping of more than 75 millimetres of rain on Friday. More rain was forecast overnight, today and the scheduled opening round tomorrow.
US Golf Association chief Mike Davis said that the biggest concern was the green and greenside bunker at the 11th hole, which is the lowest point on the course.
"It's where two creeks come together. But we have had two major rain events and in both of them the green has managed to stay above water, which is a good thing," said Matt Shaffer, the course superintendent.
"Certainly it's saturated. But the good thing down on 11 is that the water comes up fast, but it also recedes very quickly. And it's silt, so it will dry really, really quickly. We just need a little bit of sunshine."
The 11th hole was closed off to any intrepid players looking for a soggy practice as the bunker was repaired. Contingency plans include using alternative holes on the club's West course, but Davis described that as a 10,000 to one chance.
"If you walk this course you know there's hardly any flat lies at Merion," he said. "Its surface drains beautifully."
The USGA executive director said the chance of standing water forming on greens might be taken into account.
"Thursday isn't looking all that promising," he said. "So there would be an example on Thursday where we would say let's look at all 18-hole locations, make sure to the extent possible we've got those in higher locations so we don't get puddling right around the hole."