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Merion Looking at A “Derecho”

by Jeff Skinner

Merion LogoI am getting ready to head down to Philadelphia to spend some time on the hallowed grounds of Merion Country Club.  But with the ominous weather reports I’m afraid that it might be washed away before I get there.

Now they are predicting 100% chance of rain on Thursday with the possibility of a Derecho, whatever that is. I am not sure what a Derecho is, but it doesn’t sound good. “ Derecho – (Pronounced deh-REY-cho), a widespread and usually fast-moving windstorm associated with convection. Derechos include any family of downburst clusters produced by an extratropical MCS, and can produce damaging straight-line winds over areas hundreds of miles long and more than 100 miles across.”  Yea right, this sounds bad.

But knowing my history with wet U.S. Opens I can tell you what is going to happen.  I’ll get to the parking lot and it will be raining.  I’ll go through security and it will be raining.  I’ll take the long bus ride and it will be raining.  I’ll make the long walk from the drop-off to Merion and begin to soak in all that history, literally, and it will still be raining.  And then the USGA stops play.  It will be Bethpage Black all over again.  That’s just what happened in 2009, just as we got on the grounds play was halted.

Unfortunately, this weather sounds a bit more severe than at Bethpage.  With high winds and the possibility of 100 miles of storms bearing down on Philly the USGA may be forced to clear the grounds.  I won’t mind a few hours of a delay.  There’s always the merchandize tent where a few hundred bucks can get you a shirt and a hat.  But much more than that will be a royal pain.

I am sure Mike Davis and his crew will do whatever they can to get the Open completed in as short a window as they can but remember the USGA will never resort to the PGA Tour’s “lift, clean and place.”  So Davis and company will need to let Merion dry out before they put players back out there.

A Monday finish isn’t what Davis wants but if Thursday’s weather wipes out play he will have no choice.  And that will certainly screw up all my plans.  Sometimes Mother Nature can be a bitch.

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