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Merion loaded with U.S. Open history

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods

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U.S. Open

The facts: Thursday-Sunday, at Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, Pa.

TV: Thursday and Friday, 8 a.m.- 2 p.m., ESPN; 2 p.m.-4 p.m., Ch. 5; 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., ESPN. Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Ch. 5.

Thursday tee times: Page 54.

Updated: July 15, 2013 7:13PM



ARDMORE, Pa. — History meets uncertainty.

That’s the theme as 156 hopefuls tee it up Thursday at the 113th U.S. Open at charming Merion Golf Club.

The history? Bobby Jones completed the only calendar-year Grand Slam in golf history on Merion’s East course in 1930. A shot of Ben Hogan hitting a 1-iron to capture the 1950 U.S. Open became perhaps the most iconic photo in golf lore. In 1971, Lee Trevino pulled out a rubber snake before defeating Jack Nicklaus in a playoff. In 1981, David Graham became the first Australian to win a U.S. Open, which returns to Merion the same year that Adam Scott became the first Aussie to win the Masters.

The uncertainty begins with the weather, which is expected to take a nasty turn during the first round. Forecasters speculate thunderstorms could hit around 2 p.m.
Eastern time. That would be
before 30 players even are scheduled to tee off and when the bulk of the field still will be on the course. If the rain comes earlier, look out.

Another big question is whether the players will go low on the 6,996-yard East layout. That’s especially true because the Philadelphia area has been drenched by rain in the last week, which should make the soft greens tantalizing targets.

If Merion holds its own, a vast array of shorter layouts might
become candidates for future Opens. If not, don’t expect a small-ball trend.

The biggest question, though, might be who will be in the hunt. With shorter hitters having an
opportunity to post numbers before
the course finishes with five stout holes, there seems to be more
contenders than in most U.S. Opens. They start with Tiger Woods, who already has won four times this year.

‘‘Tiger’s playing some awesome golf,’’ said Matt Kuchar, the only other player with multiple victories this season (two). ‘‘He seems to be back clicking again. And when he’s on, he can do things that most of the rest of us can’t do. It’s fun to have him playing well. It’s exciting to have a chance to compete against one of the best players of all time playing at his peak. But the game of golf really gives everybody a shot at winning.’’

Well, maybe not everybody. Then again, how many people had their eye on eventual champion Webb Simpson before the U.S. Open
began last year?

While Woods shapes up as the
favorite, a short list of likely contenders would include Kuchar, who’s coming off a victory at the Memorial, and two proven Northern Irishmen. Unflappable Graeme McDowell grinded his way to victory in the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, and Rory McIlroy put his wondrous all-around game on display when he won big two years ago at Congressional.

But the truth is, you could pick Open contenders out of a hat. At least four of the last eight winner — Simpson, Lucas Glover (2009), Geoff Ogilvy (2006) and Michael Campbell (2005) — weren’t attract-
ing much attention before the
tournament.

In other words, about the only certainty is that someone will make history at Merion. Weather permitting, of course.



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