Rain Pounds Oakmont on Eve of US Open

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2007 U.S. OpenOAKMONT, Pa. -- So much for those dreams of a firm, fast U.S. Open at Oakmont.
 
Nearly a half-inch of rain fell during a Wednesday afternoon thunderstorm that also scattered tree limbs and twigs across fairways. But crews were out as soon as the rain stopped, and officials hope the course won't play significantly different Thursday.
 
Speed of the greens should be the same, said Tim Moraghan, the U.S. Golf Association's agronomist, but firmness could be affected.
 
'It's not going to be what we planned for,' Moraghan said. 'Things were moving along quite well (before the storm). We thought we'd have a true, hard test for players on Thursday. The rain has altered this a little bit.
 
'We're going to try and do everything we can to get the golf course back to where it was before this little rain.'
 
It had been about a week since any significant rainfall in the Pittsburgh area, allowing the course to play as firm and fast as expected for a U.S. Open. With the weekend forecast calling for clear skies and warm temperatures, the greens were expected to firm up even more.
 
But the storm dumped four-tenths of an inch of rain. There were a few puddles on the course, but the bunkers and fairways should dry easily. Getting the moisture out of the greens could take a few days, Moraghan said.
 
'It's nothing substantial that's going to alter the golf course,' Moraghan said. 'The bunkers are fine, the greens are fine, the fairways are fine.'
 
Tiger Woods was hitting 2-iron on the practice range Wednesday, and he was thinking about using that instead of his 5-wood. The rain might change his plans if the fairways are not running as fast, and he might have to hit more drivers.
 
That's one area where rain could make a difference.
 
'If we have rain, I think I will put the driver in play on quite a few more holes,' Ernie Els said earlier in the week. 'If it stays the way it is now, where the ball is running, I'm going to play conservatively off the tee and get myself in the fairway and take it from there.'
 
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