The 2013 US Open at Merion Golf Club in Haverford Township, Pennsylvania is finally upon us. Webb Simpson will be looking to defend the title that put his name on the golfing map. It has been a while since the tour has been to Merion but the course has provided the backdrop to some incredible moments.
With Merion Golf Club as the backdrop, Ben Hogan was playing in the 1950 US Open as his seventh tournament since a near fatal car accident 16 months earlier that had many doctors thinking Hogan would never walk again. Hogan won and added to his legend. Merion is also home to the “Grand Slam” complete by Bobby Jones in 1930 by winning the US Amateur. Let’s take a moment and remember Hogan at Merion in 1950.
YouTube Video Courtesy of tarifachris
Many players have never played or even seen Merion before this week. However some have experienced this course at amateur events like Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Rickie Fowler, Webb Simpson, Billy Horschel, Steve Stricker and others. Yet none will have experienced US Open conditions at a course built to handle the challenge. Merion will play to a par of 70 traversing 6,996 yards. The USGA will, as always, set up a course that will challenge the world’s best. In fact players are saying this is some of the worst rough they have ever seen. A test of their metal should be expected and mental preparation will go a long way in deciding this year’s champion. This course will be no pushover and in my opinion there are four holes that will go above and beyond in laying down the gauntlet. If the player’s can navigate these four they will have a great chance at capturing this year’s US Open.
The sixth hole is a 487 yard par 4 that features a semi-blind tee shot that should settle, if accurate, into the middle of a bowl shaped landing area. From there players will have mid to long irons into a green that features a false front. Players will be forced to run it in or fly it to the middle or back of green in order to hold serve on this back to front sloping green. Par on the sixth will be a good score all week.
The ninth hole is a 236 yard par 3 that will give the players all that they wanted and then some this week. The large kidney shaped green will see players hitting anything from a six iron to a front hole location to hybrid to the back pin placements. It is a downhill hole with water front and right of the green. A bunker left of the green will affect all tee shots to a back location. Par on this hole will prove to be a great score all week.
The par 3 17th will give the players all they can handle. During the US Open this week this hole play as long as 246 yards and as short as 195 yards. The hole will play slightly downhill but will never factor more than a half a club. A major challenge at 17 is the prevailing ridge at the front of the green that must be carried to have any chance. When you consider the distance of the hole, the front to back sloping green will continue to test the players skill on the traditionally hard US Open greens.
The 521 yard par 4 finishing hole will most likely be the hardest hole of the 2013 US Open. Players will be facing a partial blind tee shot over a quarry to a narrow landing area. If the tee shot is long enough the players will catch a downhill to gain extra yardage however if players do not make the downhill they will be left with a challenging and long iron into this green. A narrow fairway (about 20 yards) will provide the backdrop to an approach into a dome shaped green guaranteed to funnel shots all over the surrounding areas. If a player can play this hole in even par this week you might seem then on top come Sunday afternoon.
Providing a video of every great moment in the history of the US Open is an almost impossible task. Instead lets flashback to last year’s US Open and Webb Simpson’s signature shot en route to his 2012 victory.
YouTube Video Courtesy of pgatour
While that was Webb Simpson’s signature shot, who will have this year’s signature shot? Will a proven champion prevail in 2013? Will a talented player break through for their first major championship? Will a qualifier come through when the smoke clear on Sunday? It is hard to say what will come this week but let’s break down some logical contenders at the 2013 US Open.
Up Next: The Contenders