ARDMORE, Pa. — Ten things to know about the U.S. Open, to be played beginning this morning at Merion Golf Club:
Return to Merion
Even though it has hosted a record 18 USGA championships, the U.S. Open has not been played at Merion since David Graham won in 1981. The 32 years is the fifth-longest time between U.S. Opens for a golf course.
Low five for Tiger
Tiger Woods returned to No. 1 in the world this year. Still missing from his comeback is a major. He now has gone five full years since he won his 14th career major in the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. Jack Nicklaus, with a record 18 majors, did not have a drought this long until he was 45.
The scorecard for Merion will be 6,996 yards at par 70, making it the shortest course for any major championship since Shinnecock Hills (also 6,996 yards) in the 2004 U.S. Open. The difference? Merion has five par 4s that are under 400 yards.
Wicker basket sticks?
The signature of Merion is the wicker baskets instead of flags that are attached to the pins — red for the front, orange for the back. The idea came from course designer Hugh Wilson, though exactly what inspired him remains unknown. Wickers were used at three of the four previous Opens at Merion. The exception was 1950.
Longer is better
Four of the last six majors have been won by players using an anchored putting stroke, with Adam Scott at the Masters completing this version of a Grand Slam. This much is known: A long putter (belly or broom) anchored to the body can only be used in three more U.S. Opens. The stroke will be illegal on Jan. 1, 2016.
Why is it that only when Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson win the Masters does anyone talk about the Grand Slam? Adam Scott is the only player capable of sweeping the four majors this year after his sudden-death playoff at Augusta National.