The USGA historically tries to keep the winning score at the U.S. Open around even par, even a few strokes over. Or so we all thought.
In a press conference Wednesday morning, executive director Mike Davis said USGA officials don't sit around worrying about the winning score. "It's not something we use as a metric for success," Davis said. "If you see 14-under win or 5-over win, we want to know if the course was played appropriately."
To play the course appropiately might be difficult to do in the severe thunderstorms and hail on the radar for Thursday. But so far this week, the drainage at the historic course has been the MVP, allowing players to get in full practice rounds Tuesday after a stormy Monday. Davis said the USGA will take a reactionary approach to whatever Mother Nature throws at them the rest of the week.
"We happen to play a sport that's outside," Davis said. "It's not a perfect world. It's not a perfect game. A lot of times you just have to see what you're dealing with."
Merion has several holes that Davis can tinker with to give players different looks throughout the tournament. He's shooting for an estimated 13 on the Stimpmeter on all greens even with the rain, with the exception of the severely sloped No. 5 green that will be played closer to 12. The 13th can play under 100 yards, opposed to the other par 3s, which measure 236 yards, 246 yards and 256 yards, respectively. Other holes like No. 10 (303-yard par 4) are already driveable, but Davis' crew might make them more enticing to long bombers who might need a birdie.
"We did that during the Walker Cup [in 2009], and it was wonderful," Davis said. "At this point, I don't think we know for sure. When you think about making a hole shorter, you think about the risk and reward. We would have to be convinced that a percentage of the players would try it, and there would have to be a big enough chance they could pull it off." Photo: Mike Davis at Merion on Wednesday (Getty Images).