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US Open: Merion finally ready for its close-up

US Open begins Thursday at Merion.

U.S. Open - Preview Day 3 Matt Kuchar practiced at Merion Wednesday and thought the course played harder and faster than earlier in the week.

The 113th U.S. Open begins Thursday — hopefully — at Merion.

After last Friday and Monday's combined deluge dumped 6.5-inches of water onto the East course, the rain went away the past two days. That enabled the fairways to get harder and the greens slicker, much to the USGA's delight.

But with forecasts predicting another downpour, potentially delaying or postponing the first round, suddenly everything is up the air.
While that may hamper the enjoyment for spectators and frustrate corporate sponsors and the networks, the players won't let it faze them.

"We play so many events and have to deal with weather," said Tiger Woods, slated to tee off at 1:14 p.m. Thursday , then 7:44 a.m. Friday. "We deal with delays, with coming in, going back out, finishing up rounds the next day. It's just the way it is."

When it happens at the Podunk Open, no one seems to notice or care. Here at the U.S. Open, everyone does.

"With rain it makes the course longer and the rough tougher," said defending Open champ Webb Simpson, "but traditionally what we see on the Tour is when it gets softer it gets easier. Hopefully, we can get through the first couple of days with scores not too low. By the weekend it's looking like it might dry out."

With the stakes so high, they hardly expect Merion to be a pushover.

"It's still a U.S. Open course," said Matt Kuchar, who won the Memorial last weekend. "I was amazed, with how much rain we got, how dry the course seemed to be [yesterday]. It's still a very demanding, difficult golf course even in softer conditions."

 
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