Rain Rain Please Go Away

That must be what the United States Golf Association and the players who made the cut at the 109th US Open at Bethpage’s Black Course must be thinking about now.  It is Saturday night and 16 of the players who made the cut have not begun their 3rd rounds yet.  Still, I think if they resume at 7:30am like they want to and can get thru Sunday without any suspensions in play, I think they have a chance of finishing 72 holes Sunday evening as originally planned.  The final pairing off of 1 and off of 10 are scheduled to play at 7:56am, which means they should have the 3rd round done by 12:15 or at least 12:30.  They can then re-pair the players and finish prepping the course for the final round and start it around 1:45pm.  Given that exactly 60 players made the cut sending 15 pairs off of the 1st tee and the 10th tee 8 minutes apart means the final pairs tee off exactly 2 hours after the 1st pairs, so hopefully at 3:45pm.  That would then yield 4 1/2 hours of usuable daylight for the final pairs to get their 4th rounds played.  Its a tight schedule, and an exhausting one for the players, but it is doable.  And not unprecedented; it was custom until the mid-1960s for the US Open to finish with everyone playing 36 holes on the final day (Saturday) (they saved some time by not re-pairing between rounds).  But of course this all depends on weather.  If it rains overnight to the point that the course is not in playable shape at 7:30am or that forces any sort of delay in the middle of play, a Sunday finish will become impossible.  And a tie would mean the playoff is on Monday, but that is always the case anyhow.

One thing I think the USGA should’ve done differently is how they scheduled the 2nd round.  It is customary for the early wave of players for the 1st round to go later in the 2nd round and vis versa.  That way everyone plays a morning round and an afternoon round.  But in this case I think they should’ve done a 1st in 1st out schedule on Friday and let the players that started in the slop Thursday morning and finished in the damps Friday morning to play some holes in the beautiful weather and soft conditions Friday evening.  As it is the late 1st round wave played Friday and then started their 2nd rounds Friday evening and played roughly 27 holes in easier conditions, and the guys that played in the crappy weather played in the rain again Saturday afternoon.  Its no coincidence that of the 16 guys on the first 2 pages of the NBC leaderboard after the 2nd round 14 of them played roughly 27 holes Friday with none Thursday and a few when it was still nice Saturday morning.  To a large extent just the luck of the draw to be sure, but I thought the USGA could’ve handled that better.

Its an interesting leaderboard headed by the once up-and-coming Ricky Barnes and the middling Lucas Glover followed closely by former Masters champ Mike Weir.  If none of those 3 distinguish themselves the entire field is in play as only 7 shots separate 4th place (a group that includes the disappeared David Duval) and the players that made the last 2 rounds on the cutline.  It figures to be an action-packed Sunday on Long Island . . . weather permitting.

***UPDATE*** The USGA is thinking like me: http://www.salon.com/wires/ap/2009/06/20/D98UODJ80_glf_us_open_outlook/

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