The clear, sunny sky almost perfectly reflected his front-nine 32.
But as the sky clouded over and the winds picked up, Merrick's 3-under slowly turned back to even par.
The disappointment in Merrick's face was minimal, however, as the 70 was his best round of the week and one of just 12 even rounds Saturday.
After carding just three birdies in two rounds all week, Merrick's five nearly doubled his week's total.
"I was putting really well today, and I hit most of the fairways," Merrick said. "I just made a few mistakes on the back."
Four bogeys on the back cost him an under-par score. On 18, Merrick needed to sink a 15-footer for par to keep him at 1-under on the day and 7-under for the weekend.
The ball looked to be rolling straight down the middle, but lipped out, forcing him to two-putt for bogey. Merrick remains at 8-over (218, 73-75-70) after three rounds.
Merrick's practice partner, former Long Beach State golfer John Mallinger, did not fare nearly as well, posting a 77 and dropping to 14-over (224, 72-75-77) for the week, tied for 67th at the time of suspension.
"I'm not playing well at all, my game is off right now," Mallinger said. "I'm driving the ball horrible."
Gentler pin placement couldn't even aid Mallinger Saturday. Mallinger hit just five of 14 greens and five of 18 fairways. While Mallinger managed to dodge the rain by mere minutes, no amount of rainfall could wash away the frustration of his dismal round.
"I made seven birdies today. There's really no excuses," Mallinger said. "I just want to go home"
Paul Goydos, also an ex-LBSU golfer, failed to escape the rain and was only through three holes when the round was suspended indefinitely at 2:16 p.m. EDT.
Goydos was even through three and still at 3-over (143, 74-69) on the weekend, tied for 17th at the time of suspension.
Goydos will resume play today at 7:15 a.m.