SHOAL CREEK, Ala., May 30 (Reuters) - Shoal Creek finally re-opened for practice rounds on Wednesday afternoon as players scrambled to get in last-minute preparations for what looms as a waterlogged U.S. Women’s Open.
The course was closed late on Monday afternoon and remained off-limits on Tuesday as it was drenched by more than four inches of rain from sub-tropical storm Alberto.
More rain Tuesday night and Wednesday morning - an additional 1.62 inches - kept the course closed until 1 PM local time (1800 GMT), when players were allowed to begin practice rounds.
The U.S. Golf Association (USGA), which runs the championship, is still intending to play without preferred lies.
“It remains our intention to play 72 holes and play the ball as it lies,” said USGA senior managing director John Bodenhamer, who expressed confidence the event would begin on time on Thursday morning, assuming it remains dry overnight.
The topic of whether preferred lies should be allowed has been a hot one the past two days.
Cristie Kerr, the 2007 champion, said that it would be a “joke” if players were not given the chance to clean mud from their balls.
Karrie Webb was a little more diplomatic.
“I will say that it will be the softest U.S. Open I’ve ever played,” said the 2000 and 2001 champion.
“I’m mentally preparing that we might play it down (no preferred lies).”
Reporting by Andrew Both, editing by Ed Osmond