USGA, NBC cutting it close in Open third round

BETHESDA, Md. – The U.S. Golf Association and NBC jointly are testing Mother Nature in Saturday’s third round of the U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club.

After the conclusion of second-round play Saturday morning, the USGA disclosed that the final twosome of Rory McIlroy, the 36-hole leader, and Y.E. Yang would begin their round at 3:50 p.m.

An association official said earlier in the week that twosomes on the weekend would be expected to play 18 holes in anywhere from four hours to 4:05.

However, with a 40 percent of thunderstorms existing after 5 p.m., and sunset in the D.C. area coming around 8:35 p.m., any kind of delay threatens completing the third round on the same day it began.

And it is no secret that NBC planned an 8 p.m. conclusion to attract a bigger audience.

NBC’s coverage for Sunday’s final round is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. finish. Officials no doubt will tweak the starting times based on what happens Saturday, but again, they are leaving very little margin in case of a delay.

--Joe Juliano