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Woods and Garcia “shake” hands on the range, as heavy rain and soggy greens welcomes the 113th US Open at Merion Golf Club.

By: Simon Reynolds

Sergio and Tiger make peace with one another.

Sergio and Tiger make peace with one another.

In the aftermath of the fried chicken fiasco, Woods and Garcia show the public that they want to put the past behind them and got on with their lives. In an act of sportsmanship, the handshake was captured on camera at the Merion driving range. Beneath their white golf caps a red mist steamed, and their clenched jaws hardly convinced the golfing world that they were at peace with one another.  Any way, there is plenty of golf to look forward to this week, as we brace ourselves for he second major of the golfing calendar.

The 113th US Open will be played at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, which in itself is a very unique choice for a US Open venue. The course is short by US Open standards, playing a total 6,996 yards Par 70. Not since Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, in Long Island, New York in 2004 won by Retief Goosen, has a US Open course played under 7,000 yards. The flag sticks will be placed in tight positions to compensate for the shorter distances, and the course on Monday received a huge downpour of rain, causing flooding on several holes. Reports from the states have indicated more rain for Tuesday and even possible thunderstorms on the opening day of play on the Thursday. With a short course and soft greens, one can expect low scoring conditions, as the soft soggy greens allow players to be more aggressive with their approach shots. This could all make for exciting viewing come the start of play on Thursday. Players on top of their game will post low rounds in the 60’s that is for sure.

The quirkiness of Merion Golf Club.

The quirkiness of Merion Golf Club.

Merion is indeed a quirky, charming course, and golf viewers worldwide may be baffled by the red wicker baskets on top of the flagsticks.  Players looking for confirmation of the wind blowing near the hole will be a little uncertain and may look elsewhere like nearby trees for their usual wind check.  The origin of the red wicker baskets still remains somewhat of a mystery. One story, suggests, Hugh Wilson the course designer, although a fine golfer, had never designed a course before. He set off for Scotland on a seven month trip to gather inspiration for Merion. One day he came across shepherds with their flocks, and noticed wicker baskets on their staffs. They were used to carry their lunch, and keep the food away from the animals. None the less, Hugh Wilson loved the look of these baskets and thought they would make an interesting addition to his flagsticks.

The Favourites
Past 1981 champ David Graham – was a short but highly accurate, crafty golfer.  In the final round on the way to his victory, Graham hit every single fairway. Merion’s tight holes, penal rough and soggy greens will reward the golfer with good driving accuracy and high up in the rankings in greens in regulation. We at Golf Indonesia have picked our Top 5 players tipped to challenge for 113th US Open championship.
Check the link for video footage of the last Open at Merion: 1981 US Open: David Graham- First Person

1. Luke Donald
Donald is due a major, and if he finds his form of 2012, Donald can be as consistent as they come in hitting greens in regulation.  Donald is not a long hitter, but is a very steady conservative golfer. If he starts making some putts it could finally be his time for a major.

2. Matt Kuchar
Not many players have been as efficient as Kuchar over the last three years, earning himself the highest number of top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour. Merion could suit his steady play and his proficiency in all aspects of the game. He will go in to the tournament high in confidence after his recent victory at the Memorial.

3. Justin Rose
The 32-year-old Brit is yet to win a major, but he has some high profile tournament victories under his belt, including: The Fed-Ex playoff, The Memorial and the World Golf Championship. Rose is an excellent ball striker and leads the PGA rankings in greens in regulation on par 3’s over 200 yards. Merion has several such holes on its scorecard, it’s been 15 years since the lanky Brit came fourth in the British Open as a teenage amateur. Nonetheless he has turned into a highly talented golfer over the years and at 32 years of age, it’s his time for the limelight.

The 46-year-old veteran Steve Stricker has the game to win the Open.

The 46-year-old veteran Steve Stricker has the game to win the Open.

4. Steve Stricker
The 46-year-old veteran is the best putter on tour, as well as a master with the wedges and an accurate driver. Unfortunately he has slipped up on numerous major final rounds when in serious contention. Should take credit for the putting tip that got Tiger winning again. A favourite on tour with his considerate personality, Stricker has the neat and conservative game to win at Merion.


5. Henrik Stenson
The dark horse of the bunch, the Swedes statistics are hard to beat. Topping the PGA charts in driving accuracy and ranked 3rd in greens in regulation. The Swedes previous best at the US Open being 9th in 2009, and several high profile wins in his career: 2007 World Match Play Championship and the 2009 Players Championship. Stenson knows what it takes to win at the highest level.

 

Looking for a place to watch the live coverage: Aphrodite Bar, in the Elite Sports Club complex, has big screens and good food and drink, showing live coverage of the US Open. Don’t miss out.

About Simon Reynolds

Simon fell in love with the game of golf at an early age. Watching Happy Gilmore when he was 12, Simon was hooked, and to this day thanks Adam Sandler's genius in the film for his passion for the game. His golfing hero is more refined and mature these days, and he continues his spiritual quest to model his golf game on Ben Hogan's perfect golf swing.

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