US Open 2013 preview: Merion

 The US Open starts tomorrow.  It's being played at Merion Golf Club, where Ben Hogan hit a 1-iron on the last hole on his way to winning the the 1950 US open.  Most pros these days would be hitting a 6-iron from that spot.  Well, Jim Furyk might hit a 5 iron and Bubba Watson might hit a 7, but you get the idea.  Instead of flags, Merion has these weird wicker baskets on the top of the sticks marking the hole location.  No one knows why they have wicker baskets, just that they are now tradition.  Don't worry about the wicker baskets though, they won't come into play.  The thing about Merion that will come into play is just how short the course is.  And there's been a ton of rain and more on the way.  So you're looking at a short, soft course.  The kind of course that pros could hit wedges really close and rack up the birdies.  I do not want to see this.  I don't want a -16 under.  My only hope is that they keep the fairways extremely narrow and the rough long.  If there is some really long wet rough, that could provide enough of a deterrent that players never use a driver.  They could hit long irons into fairways, which leaves longer shots into the greens.  I am a little prepared to be disappointed, but maybe a Tiger victory could change that.

The guys I think have a shot to win:
This is a combination of who is really good, who is playing well, and who I have a gut feeling about.
Tiger Woods - He really is the best player in the world right now.
Matt Kuchar - steady AND that a kind of golf oxymoron?
Sergio Garcia - actually playing really well, but I imagine the Philly crowd will get into his head.  More likely to lead at the end of Thursday, Friday, or Saturday than Sunday.
Brandt Snedeker - would have preferred a really hard course, but still having a career year.  I predicted he would do well at the Masters.
Phil Mickelson - putting really well and creative [crazy] enough for a quirky course.
Adam Scott - won the Masters, Steve Williams is his caddy and playing in a group with Tiger and Rory the first two days.  I could see him in the top 10 or missing the cut come Friday.  And his #3 world ranking probably means he's pretty good.
Francesco Molinari & Matteo Manassero - I think the South Africans are going to take a back seat to the Italians.  Well, not really, Charl Shwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen have been playing pretty I'll say the Italians will outperform the Swedes and the Brits, but not the South Africans or the Northern Irish.

The names I think won't win:
Rory McIlroy - his Nike clubs just aren't ready yet.  He'll be in contention at one of the next two majors, just not this one.  I think Graeme McDowell beats Rory among the Northern Irish.
Rickie Fowler - better Best Ball player than US Open champ.
The Brits [Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Justin Rose] - Justin Rose finishes the highest in this group, but not that high.
Bubba Watson - I think he wins another Masters or a PGA Championship before a US Open...but I would love for him to prove me wrong.
Dustin Johnson - Possibly the best athlete among professional golfers.  If he starts driving a few greens, then I will worry about him.
The Swedes [Henrik Stenson, Peter Hanson, Fredrik Jacobson, Carl Petersson, Robert Karlsson] - I think there's a few more, but their last names don't end in 'son' so they obviously aren't worth mentioning.  And it's not like the Swedes are highly ranked, but one of these guys is going to have a crazy day of 7+ birdies that may or may not project him into the top five for a few hours.

That's all I'm in the mood to list, but if you want to give me a name, I'll let you know which list he should be on.


  1. What's your prediction for Jason Day? He seems to finish high in every major now.

  2. I thought about mentioning the Aussies...but realized that I'm just not high enough on Adam Scott (even though he's in the "could win" list) and I would be more likely to put Day in the "won't win" list, but he doesn't really belong in it. And there was too gradual decline in the talent/name level of the Aussies. Geoff Ogilvy? John Senden? Aaron Baddeley? So no Aussies category in either direction, but Day will not win.

  3. Day may not win, but will he finish top 10 again? Maybe top 3? For Best Ball players this is an important question.

  4. I really should have written more about the South Africans. Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen really have been playing well this year. And I would have gone down the list and found Ernie Els name and Tim Clark.

  5. And I probably could have included the names Ian Poulter and Paul Casey in the Brits I don't think will win.

  6. I was significantly off, I didn't expect the Brits to do well, nor did I expect Phil to do well. And I picked the wrong Swede (should've gone with a -son).

    Also, someone yelled at Justin Rose right after he teed off one one hole, "THE KING IN THE NORTH!!" That brought me no end of mirth.