U.S. Open: Merion reopens after 'taking a beating'

U.S. Open: Merion reopens after 'taking a beating'

June 10, 2013, 12:15 pm
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Updated: 7:05 p.m.
 
ARDMORE, Pa. - As if the 2½-3 inches on Friday weren't bad enough, heavy rains pounded Merion Golf Club on Monday, dropping more than an inch of rain onto the already wet East Course.
 
Practice rounds were pushed back a little than four hours in the morning, and play was suspended for another hour in the afternoon. The course was re-opened at 3:35 p.m.
 
Shaffer and USGA executive director Mike Davis met with the media at 5 p.m. to discuss the condition of the course (see story).
 
"It was a little problematic, because we already had 2½ inches the other day," Shaffer told CSNPhilly.com shortly before the resumption of practice rounds Monday morning. 
 
"So the glass was full. Our ability to take on any additional water was problematic."
 
Monday's weather comes just three days after the remnants of tropical storm Andrea dumped heavy rains all day and into the night on Friday.
 
The situation got so bad Friday night that that water from Cobbs Creek, which runs between the 11th and 12th holes, nearly flooded the 11th green. Comcast SportsNet acquired this picture of the green and the creek on Saturday.
 
Although less rain fell, Shaffer said that Monday's storm did more damage to the golf course than Friday's because the course didn't have a decent drying day over the weekend and wasn't in a position to take on even more water.
 
Spectator paths turned into swamps. The 16th fairway had to be bailed and squeegeed.
 
"It's going to be very sloppy now," two-time U.S. Open champion Ernie Els said after the morning rain. "You're not going to see a firm U.S. Open this year, I'm sorry.  I don't care if they get helicopters flying over the fairways, it's not going to dry up.
 
"[Merion is] not going to bare its teeth the way it should.  I know guys were hoping for a firm test."
 
While the rest of the course did reopen after the initial suspension at 11 a.m., the 11th hole remained closed as crews continue to rebuild the greenside bunker, which was "completely full of water."
 
"Volunteers and the staff are clearing all the sand out and putting all new sand in and getting it tamped and ready for play," Shaffer said.
 
Golf Digest reported in its June issue that the USGA has long had a contingency plan in place in the event that the 11th and 12th holes, which are prone to flooding, become unplayable. The plan would see players - who are already warming up on the West Course because of a lack of space on the East - starting their round with two holes on the West before playing their remaining 16 on the East.
 
USGA executive director Mike Davis then referred to the plan as a "doomsday" scenario, but Shaffer seemed confident it wouldn't come to that, saying he "loves a challenge."
 
Though he did admit: "[11 and 12] took a beating. They really did. They took on a tremendous amount of water this morning."
 
"We just need some high skies, low humidity and stout wind [to dry out the golf course]."
 
Unfortunately, weather reports are calling for thunderstorms and more rain on Monday night and more showers on Thursday, the first day of tournament play.
 
Asked in a press conference during the suspension of play on Monday morning how he's been enjoying Philadelphia's weather thus far, 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott laughed.
 
"It's been great," he said. "I've seen the inside of the clubhouse a lot and restaurants. I've been here since Friday and I've been studying the course by the yardage book so far, not so much playing, unfortunately."