Updated at 2:06 p.m. ET
Life returns to Shoal Creek, with big blue patches of sky between the clouds. pic.twitter.com/CMvTQiGkWA— Randall Mell (@RandallMellGC) May 30, 2018
Shoal Creek is opening now, with the range to open to players at 12:15 local time and the course opening to practice rounds at 1 PM.— Randall Mell (@RandallMellGC) May 30, 2018
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – More rain descended upon Shoal Creek Wednesday morning, further challenging preparations for Thursday’s scheduled start to the U.S. Women’s Open.
The USGA hoped to open the course Wednesday morning, with practice round tee times scheduled to begin at 6:40 a.m., but it didn’t happen, with officials keeping the course closed because of “dangerous weather.” Three hours after Wednesday’s intended start, the course had yet to open, with rain continuing to fall and the USGA evaluating conditions.
The course closed late Monday afternoon with rain coming in, and it hasn’t been open since, though the driving range and practice areas opened Tuesday afternoon.
Another 1.6 inches of rain fell on Shoal Creek late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning. The course has taken nearly 4 inches of rainfall over the last 48 hours, and more than 6 inches over the last week.
“This is probably the wettest conditions I have ever seen in a U.S. Women’s Open,” two-time champ Inbee Park said Tuesday, before the additional rain fell.
Jessica Korda normally only plays nine holes in practice on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of U.S. Women’s Open week, but she played 18 on Monday, in case it was her only chance to see the course before Thursday’s start. That will likely to be the case.
“The course is saturated beyond comprehension,” Cristie Kerr, the 2007 champion, said after the range opened on Tuesday.
The USGA has never implemented lift, clean and place in its 123 years of conducting championships. John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s senior managing director of championships and governance, said Tuesday that the USGA intended to keep that tradition going and play the ball as it lies again this year, but he and his staff would continue to evaluate course conditions. It appears it will take extraordinary circumstances for the USGA to allow lift, clean and place, but a number of players believe being hit by a subtropical storm makes for an extraordinary circumstance.
“I would think that they would have to play the ball up,” Lexi Thompson said Tuesday. “I played it yesterday, and it was pretty wet in some spots, and some of the fairways are a little bare in some spots. I think it will be a little unfair if they don't, but, you never know. If they don't, everybody has to play it down, and it is what it is, but it's their choice.”