One (half) day in the 2013 US Open is in the books, with some of the golfers finishing their rounds at Merion Golf Club and others forced into a long day on Friday.
After weather concerns halted play twice on Thursday and forced the USGA to end Round 1 early due to darkness, it became clear that the gallery is going to get more than its money's worth on Friday. USGA had the tweet with Friday's start times to finish the opening round:
Merion has been unforgiving so far, so it's no wonder some of the world's top players are all in position to strike over the final three days of action. Among them are Phil Mickelson, who is just one stroke off the pace and went to the clubhouse with the lead, Masters winner Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy, who is sitting at even par through 11 holes.
Tiger Woods, on the other hand, is a distant two over through 10.
An interesting tournament has already unfolded so far, and technically we're still in Round 1 when things open up on Friday. The course has played extremely difficult through only a fraction of the event, and that's why the leaderboard only includes 15 players under par.
To make things more intriguing, two of those are amateurs.
With a mind toward the more established players on Tour, here's a look at a few predictions for the top stars on Day 2 of the 2013 US Open.
*For a look at the Friday pairings and tee times, click here (courtesy USOpen.com). For a look at the entire 2013 US Open leaderboard, click here (courtesy PGATour.com).
Predictions for Stars on Day 2
Eileen Blass-USA TODAY
Tiger will open with a putt to stay at two over when play begins on Friday. It's a putt that might tell us exactly where he's going to finish on Sunday far before such predictions are usually valid.
As noted by Jason Sobel of the Golf Channel, it's clear that Woods was not his usual self during the majority of the first round:
No mistaking it now: Tiger Woods is hurting. If this wasn’t a major, he might be out. Doesn’t WD from majors, though.
Woods started off shaky, bogeying the opening hole of Round 1 before climbing back to even with a birdie on No. 2. That triumph didn't lead to any better results—he also bogeyed No. 3, No. 5 and No. 10 before play ceased at No. 11.
To put that in perspective, Woods already had bogeys on over half of his first five holes. That's something you just don't see when he's ready to contend, and updates like this one from the PGA Tour Twitter kept Tiger fans gloomy on Thursday:
The world's No. 1 player finished a distant two over through 10 holes, after he elected not to putt on No. 11 as darkness took over Merion. McIlroy's bogey just before might have also been a factor in his decision.
And in a tournament like this, on a course like Merion, every stroke is going to matter.
Like his pair mates, Woods will have to play 25 holes (and one shot, in his case) at Merion on Friday. That kind of wear on one's body is going to be especially rough, considering that something with his arm/wrist is limiting his swing so far.
Maybe even worse than the injury, Woods missed three birdie putts in a row at the end of the round (No.'s 8, 9 and 10).
Don't put anything past Tiger with a full night of sleep and a chance to get some treatment for his ailment, but I really do feel that the putt on No. 11 will foreshadow what his tournament will look like the rest of the way.
If he makes it, there's a chance the good Tiger is still around. If he misses it and drops to three-over, then missing the cut is a real possibility after his long round(s) is over on Friday. With a nod to the 2008 open, I won't write Tiger off just yet.
Prediction: One-over Round 2, three-over total (even in final eight holes of Round 1)
Eileen Blass-USA TODAY
McIlroy has a special claim to fame with the US Open, having won the event in 2011 to capture his first career major championship.
Although a bogey on No. 11 ended a chance to close the day under par, McIlroy has nothing to be ashamed with after strong round of golf on Thursday at Merion.
With two birdies and two bogeys under his belt, McIlroy will start with virtually a clean slate on No. 12 when play opens up on Friday, and he'll have had a long night to completely forget about the tough putt on No. 11 that put him back at even par.
Just like his fellow grouping, McIlroy will have to play 25 holes instead of the normal 18 that roughly half of the field will get to digest on the second day of action at Merion.
With just three top-10 finishes this year and his last tournament (Memorial) winding up as one of his worst of the season, I'm not sure this is the McIlroy to finally break through at a major since the PGA Championship last year.
That won't stop him from putting together another up-and-down round on Friday.
Prediction: One-under Round 2, two-under total (one under in final seven holes of Round 1)
JD Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Scott was the best golfer in his trio on Thursday, something that should come as no surprise if you're just catching him for the first time since the triumphant finish at the Masters back in April.
If you've kept up with Scott, you'll know that his last two tournaments since then have been anything but disappointing, with tied for 19th and tied for 12th finishes over his last two tournaments (Players Championship and Memorial).
At three under, he has a share of second place alongside Mickelson and birdied four of his first 11 holes (one bogey) to climb into contention well before his first round is even over.
Scott is playing the best golf of his life right now, and he's even showing off his chops off the tee. Gary Williams of the Golf Channel noted how well his full swings were during Round 1:
Most impressive 3 full swings today. Adam Scott tee shot 3, tee shot 4, 2nd on 4. Covered about 900 yards w/2 metals and iron. #flushcity
If conditions get better and Scott continues his torrid pace over the first few holes from Thursday, there's no reason why he won't be in the final pairing on Sunday. I wouldn't expect the birdie output per hole that he had in Round 1, but don't expect a letdown, either.
Prediction: Two-under Round 2, five-under total (even par in final seven holes of Round 1)
Lefty was the biggest individual story of the tournament heading into the opening round, and the late arrival from his daughter's graduation in California didn't hinder him at all in Round 1.
With four birdies and a bogey, Mickelson has a share of the second-place spot on the leaderboard and showed us all that his decision to take the driver out of the bag this week is going to pay huge dividends if the course continues to play in its current condition.
CBS Sports' Kyle Porter had the tweet of the day about Mickelson's chances:
Wait…Mickelson's birthday is Sunday and it's Father's Day and…oh this is too much.