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11 Jun 2013

The course was closed at the start of Monday and only reopened again at 11am after heavy rain overnight, and it returned enough to force USGA officials to close down Merion again just before 3pm.

It meant players who had not been able to complete practice rounds on the East Course had to make do with hitting shots on the driving range and practice area, which for this week is Merion's West Course about a mile away.

The course was unable to be dried out properly though and the players were unable to get back out to continue their preparations, with USGA executive director Mike Davis forced to admit they may even use parts of the West Course for the US Open if needed.

"I'm giving you the doomsday of all doomsday scenarios," Davis told reporters. "We wouldn't use a hole from the West Course unless we absolutely otherwise couldn't get this championship in - if we had a stream that wouldn't recede for several days."

The US Open is traditionally the toughest test of golf the professionals will face all year, but the rain which has already fell and that which is forecast will soften up the course, making it easier than it would be on a hard, dry track.

Two-time US Open champion Ernie Els has been at Merion since Saturday, and after playing the course is adamant it will not dry out throughout the tournament.

"You're not going to see a firm US Open this year, I'm sorry. I don't care if they get helicopters flying over the fairways, it's not going to dry up," Els told the media at Merion.


"The fairways were still quite wet. I guess they couldn't get the rollers on the fairways - they're still soft. After the rain this morning, it's going to be very sloppy now.

"We're going to have a soft golf course this week all week. It means that if you're on your game you're going to have a lot of birdie putts. There's quite a few par 4s where you've just got to put it in the fairway.

"You can put it in the fairway with an iron, from a 5 iron for a 3 iron, just putting it into play, and then you've got quite a short second shot.

"I can see pin placements are going to be quite tough to protect the course. You're going to see a lot more birdies than ever at US Open venues. But the finish is still very strong. The par 3s are very, very strong.

"And there's some par 4s; 5 and 6, obviously 18 and 14 is a very strong hole. So there's some really strong par 4s, but then you've got some birdie chances. I should say the par 3s are going to be tough."

Rory McIlroy compiled the lowest ever US Open score at Congressional two years ago when the course was softened by heavy rain throughout the week, and the USGA will be keen to guard against too many players going low this week.

Rain and possible thunderstorms are forecast for most of the week, which could not only disrupt practice but the tournament itself.



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