As forecasted, weather is impacting the start of the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion. The severe derecho line of storms that moved through the Midwest on Wednesday night is now arriving on the east coast, with the Philadelphia area directly in its line. Initially, the USGA expected the worst of the weather to arrive in the afternoon but it appears that the storm, which is moving at 60 miles-per-hour, will arrive at Merion by 9 a.m. ET.
The morning started with this ironic "weather alert" from Golf Channel's Rex Hoggard:
Here's your 6:30 am update from Merion. twitter.com/RexHoggardGC/s…— Rex Hoggard (@RexHoggardGC) June 13, 2013
But by 7 a.m., the USGA issued a weather watch as the marquee AM group of Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, and Keegan Bradley made their way to the No. 11 tee for the start of the opening round.
A weather watch has been issued as play begins in the 113th #usopen. Play is underway, we will continue to monitor the situation.— U.S. Open (USGA) (@usopengolf) June 13, 2013
The line is expected to arrive between 8 and 9 a.m., and the rain may be around for much of the day. With 156 players already scheduled to play from sun-up to sun-down, it's unlikely the full first round is completed on Thursday even if there are restarts. The USGA simply has to hope that some of the high winds which blasted Chicago and Ohio do not damage the course and that the water, added to the already six inches Merion took on in the past week, does not make some holes unplayable.
Mike Davis told Golf Channel on Thursday that the USGA planned to shut down and move the patrons off the course 15 to 20 minutes earlier than they normally would, and that they had already put new plans in place in a meeting with local authorities on Wednesday night. Merion is already a small and tight venue for U.S. Open standards, so it will take some logistical wizardry to evacuate the course and keep on schedule given Thursday's forecast. Not an ideal start to the 113th U.S. Open.