Ernie Els predicts a soft 2013 U.S. Open at Merion
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Ernie Els predicts a soft 2013 U.S. Open at Merion

For the third-consecutive East Coast U.S. Open, it appears Mother Nature is going to get the best of the USGA.

After Tropical Storm Andrea dropped almost 4 inches of rain on Merion Golf Club on Friday, another inch of rain fell last night on the Ardmore, Pa., site of the 2013 U.S. Open.

The rain prompted the USGA to close the 11th hole at the East course for the day, as Cobbs Creek, which runs through the hole, overflowed within 6 inches of the putting surface. The 11th hole is also the first hole half of the field will see for each of the first two rounds, as tee times are split between Nos. 1 and 11 due to the course infrastructure.

More rain is in the forecast through Wednesday, which means there may be no time for Merion to drain out before the U.S. Open begins. Like at Bethpage Black in 2009 and Congressional in 2011, soft conditions likely will prevail.

"You're not going to see a firm U.S. Open this year, I'm sorry," said two-time U.S. Open champion Ernie Els on Monday. "I don't care if they get helicopters flying over the fairways, it's not going to dry up."

While danger lurks at every turn at Merion, particularly on the final five holes, Els said a good ballstriking week should yield a lot of chances at red numbers.

"It means that if you're on your game you're going to have a lot of birdie putts."

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