The dream grouping of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott is scheduled to tee off at 4:44 p.m., more than three hours later than their originally scheduled 1:14 p.m. start at Merion Golf Club Thursday afternoon, but the newest projection to the constantly evolving weather forecast shows they could get much of their opening 18 holes in before darkness falls — if they play at a fair pace.
Radar at The Weather Channel's website projecting the next five hours shows the bulk of another storm front scooting past the Philadelphia region to the south between 4:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. That's prime playing time at the previously delayed opening round of the 113th U.S. Open.
A meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, N.J., confirmed what the radar depicts: Chances for a direct, sustained hit by the eastbound storm has diminished since earlier this afternoon.
But, he said, there is still a chance for showers and thunder, which would force officials at the United States Golf Association, which runs the Open, to call players off the course and to tell spectators to take cover.
"There is a potential for some showers and rumble of thunder through 8 p.m.," NWS meteorologist Jim Bunker said. "It won’t be as strong [as forecast earlier Thursday], but there is a chance."
About 20 players have already finished their opening rounds, including Phil Mickleson, who is the leader in the clubhouse at 3-under. Roughly half the field has yet to tee off. The last group goes out at 6:27 p.m., assuring that the first round will continue into Friday.