Tiger Woods will have to wait until late Thursday afternoon -- or more likely Friday -- to get a start on winning his 15th major championship.
Stormy weather forced officials to evacuate Merion Golf Club some two hours into the first round of the U.S. Open, pushing Woods’ official tee time back to 4:48 p.m. ET. Forecasts calling for more bad weather, however, will likely delay his star-studded slugfest with Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott until Friday. With the three-plus hour rain delay early Thursday, there's a good possibility that the entire afternoon wave, half of the field, does not hit a shot. The first time of the afternoon wave, originally scheduled for 12:30 p.m., is now set for 4:04 p.m. (IF there are no more delays).
Whenever the world’s top-three players finally make their way to the first tee, Woods believes the soggy conditions could provide him with a slight advantage over the field. His first look at Merion, in pouring rain, could serve him well on a course that has been flooded by downpours since last week.
"I came up on Tuesday of Memorial and it was rainy, the ball wasn’t flying very far," Woods told reporters Tuesday. "I’m hitting the ball to the same spots now because it’s rained and it’s soft ... It’s going to be the same that we played on Tuesday."
As players toil away the three-hour suspension pulling Twitter pranks and taking part in other off-course activities before waterlogged action resumes, it is clear that patience will be the mantra of the week.
"I don't think we have an exact feel for it yet, what we're going to have to do and what we're going to have to shoot," Woods said. "The conditions keep changing.
"We haven't dealt with teeing it up in a tournament yet with it raining and drying out for a couple days and the mud balls appearing," he added. "That's going to be interesting. Especially the longer holes."
Tiger noted he earned U.S. Open titles on courses presenting a number of different challenges in the past. He won on dry and firm courses in 2000 at Pebble Beach and 2008 at Torrey Pines, as well as a sodden Bethpage track in 2002.
"Either one, the execution doesn't change," he said. "You've still got to hit good golf shots and get the ball in play, especially now with the rough being wet, it's imperative to get the ball in play so that we can get after some of these flags and make as many birdies as we can."
About waiting out the weather, Woods expressed little concern.
"We play so many events and have to deal with weather, it's just part of our sport," he said. "We deal with coming in, going back out, playing 36, finishing up rounds. It's just the way it is."