It didn't take long for the first weather delay at the 2013 U.S. Open. A little under two hours into the opening round, the players were called off Merion's East Course as the horn sounded with a severe line of storms bearing down on the Philadelphia area.
The weather trouble is not unexpected, as yesterday's forecast called for a 100 percent chance of rain on Thursday. The nasty line of storms moved through the midwestern part of the country on Wednesday night, and rolled in to the Philly area moving at 60 miles-per-hour. The horn was officially sounded at 8:36 a.m. ET, moving the crowds and players off the course.
The storm, which most are calling a derecho, could include hail, sustained gusts of 60 mph, and lots of lightning. Even after that first severe blast rolls through, the forecast doesn't get much better, with rain expected to linger for most of the day. Given that Merion has already taken on six inches of water in the week leading up to the opening round, that could completely wash out play on Thursday. A couple holes at low points of the course, particularly No. 11, are at risk of flooding.
The U.S. Open has one of the largest fields in pro golf, with 156 players working their way through the course from dawn to dusk. It's now almost impossible that the first round will conclude on Thursday. At best, the USGA has to hope for a series of restarts to try and get as much golf in before trying to double up on Friday. The course was just starting to dry out from the torrential rain of the past week, but Thursday's storms will soften things back up and result in unpredictable mud balls. If and when play does resume, don't expect the USGA to impose "lift, clean, and place" rules to deal with the soggy layout. With the horn sounding so early, it's hard to say that either the morning or afternoon wave will benefit more than the other.
Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and Nicolas Colsaerts got the farthest into the round, playing seven holes. The Belgian bombing Colsaerts is 2-under, just one shot off the lead set by Ian Poulter. Poulter opened his round on a birdie streak, picking up red numbers at his first three holes. Those kind of streaks are not uncommon for Poulter, who went on a similar run at Kiawah last year during the PGA Championship. At the first delay, here's a current snapshot of the leaderboard: