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The USGA might have to use other holes if the rains continue at Merion

Shane Bacon
Devil Ball Golf

It's been the Year of Mother Nature on the PGA Tour, with virtually every stop decimated by rain, wind, and anything that can halt a golf tournament from happening and that could continue at this week's U.S. Open.

Rains from Tropical Storm Andrea have been beating up the area and with new storms arriving in the area, the USGA could be forced to use holes from the West Course for the U.S. Open because of the potential for holes from the East Course being totally flooded.

Ron Whitten of Golf Digest tackled this "doomsday" subject after talking with USGA executive director Mike Davis.

The specter of the green at the 11th and parts of the 12th hole sitting under two feet of water--or worse, washed away in a flash flood--has caused Davis to prescribe an extraordinary measure: He has Matt Shaffer, Merion's director of golf-course operations, prepping holes on Merion's West Course to be used as emergency replacements.

"We know the 11th hole floods," Davis says. "Hardly goes a year where the stream isn't up and over the green at some point. Apparently they've done some work downstream that causes backups. So, historically, it floods and it drains. Having said that, you have to ask, 'What if all hell breaks loose? What if it stays flooded for two days?' That's why we're going to take some precautionary measures on the West Course."

The 11th hole on the East Course was completely closed on Monday because of flooding thanks to an inch of rain that fell before 9 AM, so the weather sure hasn't let up.

With an 80 percent chance of rain on Monday and a 70 percent chance on Thursday to go along with all the rain the golf course has already received, this scenario isn't completely crossed off, especially when you hear what people on the grounds are already saying.

"The course was already soggy before a huge storm cell rolled through this (Monday) morning and delayed play," PGA Tour equipment editor and former Devil Ball writer Jonathan Wall told us. "I went out to walk to course this afternoon and it was pretty wet — so much so that the spectator walkway is already turning into a mud pit."

The good news is a weather lull is expected to hit on Tuesday afternoon, and Wall thinks that will help the USGA avoid having to go to another course because of flooded holes.

"In my opinion, I don't think officials will have to worry about a doomsday scenario at this point. It's supposed to rain (Tuesday) morning and then clear up until Thursday," Wall said. "The reprieve should help a bit, but I don't think at this point we have to worry about having a replay of the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage."

If nothing else, expect a wet, muddy and different U.S. Open than the one the USGA was hoping to see at Merion.

Update, 3-07 PM: Right after we published this story the USGA sent out the following tweet suspending play on Monday.

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The 16th fairway on Monday at the U.S. Open — AP

Related coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
Old school Merion to provide new U.S. Open test
Tiger Woods still a big favorite to win the U.S. Open
Phil Mickelson's recent surge puts him in U.S. Open discussion

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