Merion challenges despite short length | 6:00 a.m.

If anyone expected Merion Golf Club to roll over and play dead for the U.S. Open, they know better heading into a new day of golf on Friday.

The site of this year’s championship may be short by modern standards -- just under 7,000 yards -- and it may be soft from a week’s worth of rain, but it proved far from easy during a truncated first round in which only 15 players broke par.

“Everyone on TV was saying we’re going to rip this course,” Jason Day said after his even-par 70. “I can’t see it. You still have to hit balls in the fairway. It’s not as easy as everyone thinks.”

Though some of the par-fours seemed downright diminutive, there were several long par threes and enough twists and turns to test the world’s greatest golfers Thursday. Marshals reported that at least eight balls were hit out of bounds on No. 15 by late in the day.

“It’s a lot tougher than they say,” former Masters champ Charl Schwartzel said after shooting 70. “There’s nothing short about it.”

Pin placement nullified the advantage that golfers usually enjoy in damp conditions. Jerry Kelly explained: “Every single one of them was in the back. You can’t get to them on soft greens.”

Two weather delays prevented nearly half of the field from completing 18 holes, so the first round will resume at 7:15 a.m. EDT on Friday. Luke Donald, currently leading at four under, knows he has a tough stretch of holes waiting for him along the back nine before he reaches the second round.

And the rest of the players suspect that Merion’s layout will continue to challenge.

“Plus you add a U.S. Open, the name and trophy,” Day said. “There’s a lot of pressure to play well.”


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