JOE BIDDLE: Rain, darkness Merion spells disaster

JOE BIDDLE: Rain, darkness Merion spells disaster (Image 1)

It has been a logistical nightmare, this U.S. Open.

A rain-delayed first round forced a long, tiresome, mental challenge on the second day.

This Merion golf course was supposed to be too short, too easy, too out-dated to test the best punches the world's best golfers could deliver.

Oh, yeah. Merion is showing the pros that courses stretching across three area codes are not necessarily the formula for challenging today's pros that arrive armed with golf clubs and golf balls that provide tee shots that are tracked by NASA.

Don't look now, but at the half-way point the lead is shared by Phil Mickelson and someone named Billy Horschel. You know Mickelson. Unless you are related, it's doubtful you can recite Horschel's bio.

Yet they are the only two golfers who are under par (1-under) at the half-way mark. That wouldn't make the cut in some PGA Tour stops.

Merion is fighting back with its rough and its greens. The pro shop might run out of golf balls before they get four rounds in here. You could hide a second grader in this rough and the greens have the field of golfers muttering naughty words under their breath.

The second-day marathon forced Mickelson to tee off at 7 a.m. and he was last seen tip-toeing in the dark, trying not to trip on something and break an ankle.

It had to be gruesome for Nashville's Brandt Snedeker, who has now missed three straight cuts as he tries to recover from a medical problem that requires him to daily inject himself in the stomach. He is trying to build bone density to prevent broken ribs.

Snedeker missed the cut by one stroke, but he was not on his game. For someone who usually fills his scorecards with birdies, the Nashvillian recorded only one birdie in two rounds. In the first round he was 3-over par on Merion's only two par-5 holes.

Friday, Snedeker had 14 pars and four bogeys. Merion will humble the best. It demands you hit fairways and Snedeker averaged 57.2 percent in two rounds. He averaged 58.3 percent on greens in regulation, but he averaged three putts per greens in regulation. It was highly uncharacteristic of one of the best putters on Tour.

But then, Merion's greens are harder to read than Obamacare.

Snedeker is not the only one hurting. Tiger Woods injured his wrist, but gutted out a par round Friday. The next two rounds should be interesting for Woods as he tries to add another major to his legacy.

“It's one of those golf courses where there's some easy holes and there's some hard holes that follow,'' Woods said. “You got to take care of the easy holes and try to get through the hard ones.

“For some reason I left myself quite a few putts in there where they were easily makeable and I didn't make any.''

Woods is not out of it. He trails the co-leaders by four shots going into Saturday's third round. Even though Woods has never won a major when trailing by that many strokes, don't discount him making another first.

U.S. Opens are supposed to be difficult, but some critics are calling for the USGA to purge Merion from the U.S. Open roster. The piece of property outside Philadelphia is postage size compared to other Open courses.

The media interview tent is in someone's back yard. Everything is crammed in broom closet space.

So, can Mickelson hold up through the weekend? Can Horschel become the classic David knocking off the giant? My hunch tells me at the end of the day Sunday, it will be an international player's name engraved on the trophy.

But the real winner will be Merion.

Contact Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s