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Merion course still something of a mystery to players at U.S. Open

June 11, 2013|By David Wharton
  • The 15th hole at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa.
The 15th hole at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa. (Clem Murray / MCT )

Given what some players were saying from Merion Golf Club on Tuesday, this week’s U.S. Open might be different from years past.

Rains that swept through Pennsylvania earlier in the week -- and are predicted to return for the first round Thursday -- have softened the track.

“They call it the toughest test in golf,” Rory McIlroy said of the tournament. “It’s a pity that it has rained so much the last few days and it might not play as tough as it usually does.”

McIlroy will be part of a 1-2-3 pairing that has him playing beside No. 1 Tiger Woods and No. 3 Adam Scott at the start. Woods has practiced on the course and said he will be curious to see what kind of scores are needed to stay atop of the leaderboard.

Woods wondered whether officials will cut the rough back or whether the greens will be up to speed. He said that, much like thoroughbred “mudders” that can handle the elements, players might succeed or fail based on their ability to hit mud balls.

“That’s going to be pretty interesting, especially on some of the longer holes,” he said. “On the shorter holes, if you get some mud on the ball, you can’t be as precise.”

The weather notwithstanding, McIlroy described Merion as unique.

"I have never really played a course like it," he said. "You have a tough start, then you have a stretch from 7 to 13 where you have a lot of wedges in your hand and a lot of chances to make birdie, and the last five holes where you're just trying to hang on."

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