The 2013 U.S. Open is cleared to restart on Merion's East Course at 12:10 p.m. ET, more than three hours after the first of what could be many weather delay horns on Thursday. The players were cleared to go back to the driving range just after 11 a.m. ET, while the USGA worked to clear the standing water on the course and set a restart time. The range is set up on the West Course at Merion, a mile away from where they start at the No. 1 and No. 11 tees, so they needed to build in even more time for warm-up.
That first AM blast of storms may be the most severe weather of the day, but it's likely not the last delay of the opening round. There is more rain in the forecast, but the USGA will try to get as many holes in as possible in what could be a day with multiple restarts. The 12:10 restart may provide just a two-hour window of golf before play is called for the rest of Thursday.
Even if the weather holds off, there's no way the opening round finishes Thursday, and it's likely that most of the field does not even play a single hole. That will almost certainly mean 156 players will get to the weekend, with a cut maybe not coming until Saturday night. The dominoes would continue to fall with either a 36-hole Sunday finish or a Monday finish. And of course, this is a major where any potential ties are not decided in an immediate sudden death playoff, but rather an 18-hole playoff conducted the next day.
After the initial line of severe weather came through, the USGA officials could not go out on the course to inspect the conditions until almost two hours after the horn sounded. The creek surrounding the 11th green, which is at risk of flooding, had risen significantly but was still below the rock wall that abuts the putting surface. If the 11th green does get flooded later, then the round will be promptly called for the day. There were several greens with standing water during the torrential rains, but the Merion and USGA maintenance staffs quickly worked to make them playable. Holding on after the next wave of precipitation is now the more disconcerting question.