After Mother Nature largely granted the 2014 U.S. Open a reprieve on Thursday, fans and golfers may not get so lucky in Round 2.
The initial forecast for the opening round wasn't pretty. Some predicted the rain would hold off in the morning and through the early afternoon but that storms would begin rolling in around 2 or 3 p.m. Luckily, that didn't happen, and play was largely without incident.
After the first round, Martin Kaymer is leading at five under. He blitzed the competition, jumping out to an early three-stroke lead over the four golfers tied for second place.
Kaymer's first-round score of 65 is the lowest at Pinehurst in its three years hosting the U.S. Open, per PGA Tour Media:
History isn't on his side, though. Only three of the last 11 golfers to own at least a three-stroke lead after 18 holes have gone on to win the tournament, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Martin Kaymer is the 12th player to lead the U.S. Open by at least 3 shots after 18 holes. Only 3 of previous 11 went on to win the event— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 13, 2014
Pinehurst No. 2 is a tough course due to its length, lack of par-fives and smaller greens. Whoever does win won't be very far under par:
I just talked to Crenshaw the redesigner. He said if there's no rain, 280 wins.— Dan Jenkins (@danjenkinsgd) June 11, 2014
Kaymer was certainly helped out by the fact that Pinehurst wasn't too affected by the elements. If you quicken the fairways and the greens, a difficult course becomes that much harder.
Look at how much the inclement weather affected the golfers at last year's U.S. Open. Nobody broke par, and seven under was good enough for a share of 10th.
That could be the same story this year unless the golfing gods decide to smile upon Pinehurst No. 2 for another three days.
|Time (ET)||Network||Live Stream|
|9 a.m. - 3 p.m.||ESPN||Watch ESPN|
|3 p.m. - 5 p.m.||NBC||NBC Sports Live Extra|
|5 p.m. - 7 p.m.||ESPN||Watch ESPN|
Much like Thursday, Friday's forecast calls for a chance of rain, but it's nothing to start panicking about. According to The Weather Channel, the high during the day will be 68 degrees with a 30 percent chance of rain. The humidity will be around 75 percent.
Looking at the hour-by-hour forecast, the time between 10 a.m. and noon looks to be the danger zone. That's when the likelihood of precipitation is at its highest. The chance drops to 20 percent at 1 p.m. and down to 10 percent at 3 p.m.
If the rain holds off through the afternoon, it will be smooth sailing from there in Round 2.
Here's what AccuWeather.com meteorologist Brian Edwards said, per AccuWeather.com's Kevin Byrne:
It looks like moisture hangs around into Friday. It's probably a fairly similar day, more clouds than sun and highs in the upper 80s to near 90, but again, they'll have to deal with pop-up thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening. It's kind of a typical summertime pattern, where you get some heating and showers and thunderstorms bubble up, so it's fairly normal for down there
Byrne spoke with Greg Nye, who coaches the men's golf team at Penn State. Nye said that the sandy soil at Pinehurst will help absorb whatever rain may come. Of course, the course won't catch everything, so if it rains Friday, play will become tricky, especially with the difficulty of the fairways and the lack of major rough to slow down the ball.
If there is enough rain, the weather will create issues both on and off the course for golfers. Any kind of break in play can throw off a golfer's momentum, especially if the break is a lengthy one, per Byrne:
A player on a bogey streak would likely welcome to opportunity to come off the course to reevaluate their round unlike a player who's in a good rhythm of play.
"It's a part of their world, they grow used to it, [but] you never like it," Nye said.
For the golfers, getting their bodies physically and mentally ready to resume play can be a difficult thing, especially when it comes to replicating their playing rhythm, Nye said.
With so much on the line, fans want to see the best golfers in the world performing with the most optimal conditions. Sure, Merion provided some fun last year with the rain, but it ultimately affects the entertainment level.
Expect Friday's weather to be similar to Thursday's. Except the heavens might be opening up this time.