For the second straight day, the 113th U.S. Open will restart a round at 7:15 a.m. ET. The USGA spent two full days trying to make up as much golf after the three-plus hour rain delay early Thursday morning. But there was still no way the 156-man field was going to finish 36 holes and be cut in half by nightfall on Friday.
Friday's weather did allow for golf deeper into the evening than expected, but there are still 70 players who have to complete their round. Some players, such as Tim Clark and Charl Schwartzel, have just one full hole left while 11 others have their entire back nine ahead of them. That should put the conclusion of the second round approximately at 9:30. The USGA will then re-pair the players based on their position on the leaderboard and send them out shortly after that final group comes into the clubhouse.
USGA executive director Mike Davis told ESPN on Friday that the preference is to send the field out in twosomes all off the first tee, playing Merion's 18 holes as they were originally set up instead of the split tees at No. 1 and No. 11. But Davis and the USGA are willing to sacrifice Saturday for Sunday, where they absolutely want twosomes rolling into Merion's 18th on the primetime broadcast. They still have enough time to do this on both days, but if there's more inclement weather or a threat of it, they may quickly re-pair Saturday morning and use the same format as the first two rounds.
Of the 70 players still out on the course, Ian Poulter has the most on the line when the restart horn sounds at 7:15 a.m. Poulter is currently just one shot off the lead, one of five players at even-par. He is one of the better "grinders" in the game, relatively unaffected by the extremely tough conditions that the USGA lays out. But while fellow Englishman Justin Rose and Luke Donald are already in the house at even-par, Poulter still has to play Merion's brutal final five holes, one of the toughest finishing stretches in U.S. Open history. Given the difficulty and ample bogey risks, it's more likely that he drops a shot than jumps up into a midpoint tie for the lead with Billy Horschel and Phil Mickelson, the only two golfers in red numbers.
Joining Poulter at even-par with holes to play early Saturday is Cheng Tsung Pan, an amateur from the University of Washington who's amazingly hanging in with the pros at the toughest test in golf. Pan has nine more holes to play, but he'll have the entire Huskies fan base watching closely this weekend. Fellow Pac 12 amateur Michael Kim, the college golfer of the year out of Cal, is just 1-over with seven more holes to go. Charley Hoffman and Jerry Kelly round out the set of golfers within two shots of the lead who could make a run at Mickelson and Horschel during Saturday morning's restart.
***UPDATE: The third round with resume at 12:15 p.m., with the USGA sending players off split tees in threesomes. Here is the complete list of pairings and tee times for the third round.