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Tiger Woods sees Merion as a viable site with a fickle setup

Woods likes the course, even though he posts his worst score at a major since turning pro.

June 16, 2013|By Mark Wogenrich and Teddy Greenstein
  • Tiger Woods hits from the rough on the par-five second hole at Merion Golf Club during the final round of the U.S. Open on Sunday.
Tiger Woods hits from the rough on the par-five second hole at Merion Golf… (Gene J. Puskar / Associated…)

ARDMORE, Pa. — Even though he recorded his highest score at a major since turning professional, Tiger Woods said he would like to see the U.S. Open return to Merion. He's not sure if the U.S. Golf Assn. feels the same.

"Certainly as a golf course, it could definitely host another major championship," Woods said after a final-round 74 that left him 13 over for the week. "But I don't know if the USGA wants to; they make a lot of money on other venues."

Because of limited space for spectators and corporate hospitality suites, this U.S. Open probably will produce a revenue loss, USGA Executive Director Mike Davis has said. Davis, however, insisted the loss was a fair price for returning to a course he has called "magical."

Woods agreed on the course's characteristics, calling it more intimate than previous U.S. Opens. But he found the setup fickle, saying the USGA tried to "protect par" by locating the holes in difficult places.

Woods had a rough week on those greens, averaging 32 putts a round. He struggled with speeds, citing the greens' composition and graininess.

"They were tough," Woods said. "I can understand what Mike and his staff are doing because it's soft out there. And [they're] trying to protect par, even though they say they don't. But I understand what they're trying to do."

Ace in the hole

Shawn Stefani's four-iron tee shot at No. 17 landed in the rough, popped onto the green, rolled down a hill and turned right before disappearing.

After it found the cup for the first hole in one in five U.S. Opens at Merion, Stefani went bonkers.

"I didn't know what to do but jump up and down for joy," he explained.

He put an exclamation mark on the moment by kissing the area of rough where his ball had landed.

"We're in Philly," the 31-year-old Texan said. "I know the fans can be tough on you — and they can love you forever. So I'm sure they appreciated that."

Stefani's only previous ace came when he was 13, so he'd like to keep the ball. But if Merion asked for it?

"Well, there's a price for everything," he replied.

Bent out of shape

Woods, Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott, the top three ranked players in the world, who played together the first two rounds, finished 13, 14 and 15 over par, respectively.

McIlroy took it out on his club on No. 11 on Sunday when he hit two balls into a creek. He bent the iron, making it unplayable.

"I think that's what this tournament does to you," he said. "At one point or another, it gets the better of you, and it definitely did this weekend."

Fond farewell?

Sergio Garcia walked into the gallery at the 18th hole essentially to say goodbye.

"Somebody shouted, 'Did you make another 8?' " Garcia said. "And I just went over there and gave her my signed glove."

That ended a frustrating week for Garcia, who finished 15 over but might have contended if not for two holes. Garcia played the 14th and 15th in a combined 16 over for the week, hitting five tee shots out of bounds and four-putting the 14th on Sunday.

Asked whether it was a tough week, Garcia said, "What do you think?"

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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