2013 US Open at Merion Golf Club

Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa is serving as the host of the 2013 US Open.

Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa is serving as the host of the 2013 US Open.

Tomorrow morning at 6:45 the first group will head out onto historic Merion Golf Club East Course to begin the 2013 US Open. The event has been the buzz of the Philadelphia sports world all week and all the anticipation will finally end as the world’s greatest golfers will tee it up in Ardmore, Pa.

The club includes the historic East and West courses designed by Hugh Wilson. Merion has hosted more USGA Championship events than any other course in the nation and was the site of Ben Hogan’s famous one-iron on the final hole of the 1950 US Open (Article via CSNPhilly.com).

Since the completion of the East Course in 1912, and the West Course in 1914, Merion Golf Club has stood as one of the nation’s premiere championship courses and it has brought one of golf’s biggest events to Philadelphia.

Weather

Rain has been a major issue at the 2013 US Open.

Rain has been a major issue at the 2013 US Open.

All the golf talk this week has been dominated by talk of the weather. Rain poured upon the Philadelphia region for much of the past weekend and the early week and it is due to make a return to the forecast for parts of rounds one and two. The grounds crew at Merion has been hard at work looking to keep the course in playable condition for the tournament to start on time. Expect golfers to start on time tomorrow morning but potential storms throughout the day could put a damper on things.

Practice rounds have been cancelled due to flooding on the course and squeegees have been used to try to salvage the fairways and greens. The real problem for golfers will be the rough. The rough will have to suffer to save the fairways and greens so expect sloppy and muddy conditions for players who frequent the rough.

On the other side of things, expect potentially historically low scores for golfers who can keep the ball in play. The wet conditions will make the course extremely soft which will allow the players to be much more aggressive when approaching the green. The right golfer will certainly be able to feast on this course if they can manage their shots well and stay in the short grass.

Weather conditions could be the downfall for Merion Golf Club in terms of hosting future US Opens. States like California and Florida are much more predictable weather wise this time of year.

Interactive Map of Merion’s East Course via Philly.com

The 1, 2, 3 Pairing

Woods (left), McIlroy (center) and Scott rank 1, 2, 3 in the World Rankings.

Woods (left), McIlroy (center) and Scott rank 1, 2, 3 in the World Rankings.

If you happen to have tickets to this week’s Open, it’s a pretty safe bet which group you will be following around for the first two days at Merion. Group #35 tees off at 1:14 tomorrow headlined by the reigning Masters Champion, Adam Scott, the 2012 PGA Championship winner, Rory McIlroy, and World #1, Tiger Woods. The Scott, McIlroy, Woods pairing will certainly draw some monstrous crowds for the first two rounds as the top three ranked golfers will be playing together.

McIlroy who recently became a fellow Nike spokesperson with Woods, has not had the 2013 season that many expected him to have, losing his #1 World Ranking to Woods. However, McIlroy via Twitter seemed happy with the group.

@McIlroyRory: “Decent group for the first 2 rounds at Merion I see….”

Scott commented that it would be “an intense couple of days,” playing as a member of this group. Scott is also caddied by Steve Williams, Woods former caddie.

Woods is also looking forward to teeing it up with the world’s #2 (McIlroy) and #3 (Scott) golfers. “Normally we don’t get those types of pairings very often,” said Woods. “When you do it just makes it that much more enjoyable for us as players.”

The fans will certainly enjoy the pairing as well.

Philly

Merion Golf Club flag sticks feature wicker baskets instead of flags.

Merion Golf Club flag sticks feature wicker baskets instead of flags.

It cannot be understated what this event has meant for Philadelphia over the last week. The city’s golf fans have been ecstatic all week as they have braved downpours to venture out to Merion to watch their favorite golfers prepare for the tournament. Sports talk radio phone lines have been buzzing with golf fanatics and local sports television entities have been live on location at Merion all week.

The buzz has permeated beyond weekend warriors. All fans are excited to see the area being tabbed as the host of such a major sporting event. The emergence of Woods over the last 15 years has brought golf into the mainstream and he touched on what it meant to have this event in Philadelphia.

“This is one of the great sporting towns in the country,” said Woods. “They’re passionate about all sports. We had our event at Aronimink (AT&T National 2010, 2011), and it was unbelievable. The fans were incredible. It was electric. And I think this week will be the same thing.”

This event should serve to show the country that a lot of the perceptions of Philadelphia fans are somewhat exaggerated and unfair. Philadelphia is a major sporting area that is capable of hosting big time sporting events such as the US Open. A flawless weekend from a spectator stance will go a long way for the city’s reputation.

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