The US Open is set to take place next week at Merion Golf Club for the first time in 32 years. Tiger Woods will once again steal the headlines despite a five year major drought, but there are five other things you need to know before you sit back and enjoy all that major tournament golf has to offer.
Tiger Woods has not won a major tournament in five years. The drought goes back to his victory at the US Open in 2008 when it was played at Torrey Pines. Essentially major win number fifteen is all that is still missing from the incredible comeback that Tiger Woods has made since his infamous scandal and fallout. Reclaiming the world number one ranking that was rightfully his earlier in the year was a start, but it won’t be cemented in place until he gets another major victory.
Woods is only four major victories away from tying Jack Nicklaus for the most career major wins with eighteen. Nicklaus was able to avoid such droughts until age caught up with him in his mid-40s. Tiger needs to prove he can still win the biggest tournaments in golf, and should come out hungry to win at Merion on Thursday.
Tiger’s major drought will probably steal the headlines at the US Open this week, however here are the five other key things you should know heading into the tournament.
1) This is an extremely short course for a major
In fact, it is the shortest course to play host to a major golf tournament in just shy of a decade, nine years to be exact. The course measures at 6,996 yards, and has a par of 70. Nine years ago, Shinnecock Hills measured the exact same length when it hosted the US Open in 2004. Merion Golf Club features four par fours that are under 400 yards long.
A shorter course requires a different skill set than many professionals are used to displaying. Finesse will reign over power this weekend, creating a different challenge for the field.
2) Merion is a new course for most pros
Although the course has been around for over a century, it has fallen out of the professional circuit of late. Only eleven of the active members on the PGA have played a competitive round on the course, and all but six of them played in a match play style event at the course. Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker are the most prominent names to have played a competitive round at Merion, when they were a part of the US Amateur 24 years ago.
3) Top players are struggling this year
Of the top twenty players in the world golf rankings, only five have been able to win a tournament this year. Rory McIlroy’s struggles have been publicized far more than anyone else, however he is not alone in finding it difficult to earn a victory in 2013.
4) New technology meets old school course
Merion is one of the classic courses in the world of American golf. It has been one of the landmark courses for the greater part of a century, and now will face the test of new technology in the US Open. Debate is already starting as to whether the technology in today’s equipment will result in an onslaught of birdies and scores that showcase how out of hand the aid of technology has become in the modern game. The other side of the argument is that the finesse required to conquer a course such as Merion will take modern player’s out of their element and keep the scores reasonable this weekend.
5) Long odds for a Webb Simpson Repeat
Repeating a US Open title may seem like a feat that wouldn’t be too rare. However it is one of the more rare events in the sport. In the past century, only four players have successfully repeated their title at the tournament. That gives Webb Simpson just the slimmest of chances, on paper at least, of joining the ranks of Curtis Strange, Ben Hogan, Ralph Guldahl and Bobby Jones at securing back to back US Open titles.
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Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express