If you have a USGA handicap index of 1.4 or better and $150, you can try and qualify for the US Open. This year the USGA received over 9,000 applications for the US Open this year. Playing at a maximum of 6,996 yards Merion is the shortest course in recent Open memory. You have to go back to 2004 at Shinnecock Hills to find a course that played under 7,000 yards.
That being said, it will probably play longer than its listed yardage. Very narrow fairways and soft conditions will lengthen the course. Just because you have a 367 yard par 4, doesn’t mean you can bomb a driver and be left with a short pitch. You will have to play to certain angles and lay back to the fat part of the fairway, to be able to approach the most likely tucked pin position.
The last five holes at Merion are some of the longest on the course, with the par 4 18th coming in at 521 yards. The last par 5 on the course is the 4th hole, and at 628 yards with the wet conditions, most surely will be a three shot hole for 99% of the field. Three of the par 3s measure over 230 yards, that’s a tough test for any golfer. Now for the list of contenders and pretenders in the 2013 US Open.
1. Tiger Woods: 78 PGA Tour wins, 14 majors, 3 US opens, 4 wins this year. I think that stat line says it all. Did a reason really even have to be given?
2. Graeme McDowell: Has played well in most of the majors since his break through win at the 2010 Open at Pebble Beach. He can handle the heat, has one PGA Tour win this year and another over in Europe.
3. Justin Rose: No wins yet this year, but, he has 4 top 10s, and 7 top 25s in 8 events. He was also statistically the best iron player on tour last year. That should suit him well in his bid for his first major.
4. Phil Mickelson: It’s been an up and down year for Phil, but he did finish 2nd last week in Memphis. If he can stay patient and play smart he should have a chance on Sunday.
5. Ryan Palmer: Not someone you would expect to be on this list, but he has played steady golf since the Players and is knocking on the door of victory. If he knocks hard enough this week, someone just may answer.
6. John Doe: It happens in just about every US Open or British Open. Somebody nobody has ever heard of puts his name on the leader board going into the weekend. With the course being short and soft this week it could happen.
1. Sergio Garcia: Sergio himself has said he doesn’t have what it takes to win a major. Given the comment he made about Woods, the Philly fans will heckle him to no end. These are sports fans who once even booed Santa Claus at an Eagles game. Too much stress for the Spaniard this week adds up to a trunk slamming MC.
2. Rory McIlroy: With 4 top 10s this year and two majors under his belt already, you would think he would have made the list above. He plays the first two rounds with Tiger, hasn’t shown much form since April and hasn’t really contended at all this year except for San Antonio.
3. Vijay Singh: Hasn’t done anything notable this year. Well he has if you count suing the PGA Tour and admitting to taking a banned substance. All kidding aside, 1 top 25, 4 missed cuts and a couple withdrawls doesn’t add up to having much confidence.
4. Bubba Watson: Hits it crooked, doesn’t have the patience to play US Open golf, loves the driver too much, doesn’t have the patience to play US Open golf.
5. Dustin Johnson: Yes he had a top ten last week and won the season opening tournament of champions, but has had problems with injuries as of late and is just too wild off the tee.
6. All remaining John Does: It’s the US Open.
By Dustin Edwards