The weather, as in bad weather, has been the big story at the U.S. Open. It rained nearly a half an inch Monday night and Tuesday morning and it poured down again Wednesday afternoon. And the forecast called for more rain Thursday and Friday with the temperature staying around 60. The only day the forecast doesn't include rain is Sunday, when it's supposed to be sunny and in the 70s.
"It's embarrassing for Rochester, said Tom Mundrick, an area resident for 35 years. "Usually it's sunny and in the 80s at this time of year."***
Of course, Rochester shouldn't be embarrassed by the bad weather. It's not like the city ordered the inclement weather or anything. Actually, this kind of weather is par for the course at U.S. Open time, particularly when the tournament is in this part of the country. Look at recent history:
- Last year at Brookline, Mass., play was delayed enough on Friday to suspend play with six players out on the course. Then on Saturday, play was delayed over an hour due to lightning.
- In 1986 at Shinnecock Hills in New York, the weather was "windy, cold and rainy" on Thursday and Friday before clearing up the final two days.
- In 1985 at Birmingham, Mich., it rained Thursday and lightning delayed play for a short time.
- In 1984 at Marmaroneck, N.Y., a thunderstorm delayed play Thursday, forcing a few players to complete play Friday.
- In 1983 at Oakmont, Pa., play was suspended three hours on Friday due to a thunderstorm and on Sunday another thunderstorm forced suspension of play until Monday for the final groups.
If rain does cancel play, the plan is to play 36 holes on Sunday rather than Friday or Saturday.
The local favorite here is Jeff Sluman, the reigning PGA champion. Sluman, a native of Rochester, very nearly didn't even get to play. Last month, he had an emergency appendectomy, which curtailed his golf for a few weeks. But he's been working his way back into shape and is ready to go.
Of his stamina, he said, "I'd say it's OK," after playing 18 holes a day for nine straight days.
Sluman was set to tee off with Lee Trevino, who won the last U.S. Open here in 1968 and Jack Nicklaus, who won the PGA here in 1980.
The rain is is really causing problems for the 25,000 specatators. Already the major parking area, the Oak Hill West Course and its estimated 6,500 "spaces," has been eliminated due to waterlogged fairways that could be damamged by cars. So spectators have to park miles away and take shuttles to the course.
And many of the good spectating spots on the golf course are limited because of the soggy conditions.
The souvenir tent boasts everything from $1 pens to expensive rugby-type shirts. Of course, hottest selling item in the souvenir tent so far is the official "89th U.S. Open Oak Hill Country Club" umbrella, going for a mere $65.
The U.S. Open is the only major tournament in the world that still holds an 18-hole playoff in the event of a tie. It would be Monday . . . assuming 72 holes are completed by then.