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« Where Does Billy Horschel's 18 Greens In Regulation Rank? | Main | Video: Rogue Ball Attacks Carl Pettersson's Ball! »

Zach: “I would describe the whole golf course as manipulated."

Harsh words from Zach Johnson about the USGA setup of Merion through two rounds.

Randall Mell reports:

“It just enhances my disdain for the USGA and how it manipulates golf courses,” Johnson said.

And he also mentioned the element of luck, which amazingly was not even as prevalent as it might have been had the fairways been running fast.

“Not when luck is required,” Johnson said. “I think Merion is a great golf course, if you let Merion be, but that is not the agenda.”

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Reader Comments (97)

But I guess he liked how Augusta manipulated the course by adding lengths, rough and trees?? What a Hippocrite
06.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrad power
Not zach's best quote. I bet they are rolling their eyes in Scotland. Unfair? Golf? Surely not!
06.14.2013 | Unregistered Commenterjoe
It is finally a US Open, now that you have players complaining. Once a year, and only once, I enjoy watching an incredibly hard golf course.

Zach talks about luck, Tiger was unlucky twice on #4 and made birdie. I guess 100+/- are just luckier than Zach.
It's to find out who the best golfer is. Obviously Zachary Johnson is not that golfer.
06.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterEd
Surprised to hear this from him, not seemingly his usual MO. I guess golfers at every level can be the whiniest humans ever.
06.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBDF
Seems like the typical parkland US Open setup to me. Yeah some hole locations are close to ridges maybe but it appeared that a really good putt on all of these greens could stop at the hole, which isn't always true at Augusta.
06.14.2013 | Unregistered Commentercbob
I've watched entirely too much coverage and he seems to be in the minority from what I've seen of player and analyst comments as well as my own observations. Curious about the luck factor he's complaining about. I'm not seeing good shots being penalized. I am seeing a lot of players having issues with spin control and reading the speed/break of the greens.

There's also what seem to be a ton of mental mistakes, which is what I love about the US Open. I feel like a lot of players are forgetting the basic lesson of taking your medicine when you're in trouble. Seeing a lot of guys take lines over more trouble spots when they can't be confident of how the ball is going to come out.
06.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJeff
If you can't hit a wedge without it sucking back 30 feet, that's a you problem, Zach.
06.14.2013 | Unregistered Commenterrgw
Mike Davis knows how to set up a course to defend par. Plain and simple
06.14.2013 | Unregistered Commentertlavin
Zach: Your PH3 motto on your Twitter is Practice Hard, Play Hard and Pray Hard.

For the US Open, Practice Harder. Play Harder. Pray Harder.

When you won your Green Jacket you thanked your Lord and Savior for walking with you, on Easter. Perhaps the Lord works in Mysterious ways on Father's Day Weekend??
06.14.2013 | Unregistered Commentertim
Sour grapes from the beat up and bruised. I'll say a prayer for him but for now, Zach is going on my dork list.
06.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
Screw Zack. Monty just said it's the greatest USA Open venue ever because it gives the players the chance to hit different clubs off many tees . Maybe Zack doesn't like to make decisions...........
06.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterFred Jones
As Jed often said of Jethro, "Pitiful, pitiful."
06.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
Wow. I guess Billy Horschel was just damn lucky today in hitting all 18 greens in regulation...

Not Zach's finest moment.
06.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRickABQ
The set-up is ok, its the physical changes to the course the last few years which don't thrill me.
06.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGrey Lag

I think Zach Johnson makes an excellent point .. and good on him for speaking his mind.

Jim Furyk - U.S. Open Champion

Graeme McDowell - U.S. Open Champion

Zach Johnson - Masters Champion

Those three players were FORTY .. OVER .. PAR.

At some point, evidence has to creep in.

I have a great disdain for Merion and I'm hoping it's another 32 years before they go back to this place.

Not a good golf course.


06.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDD
According to Zach's doctrine his "savior" gave him the "glory" to win the Masters, so in today's case he must've taketh it away. Doesn't the the Lord works in mysterious ways, Zach? Sometimes making the rough longer than us mortals want it, and sometimes allowing your putt to drop. We are just vessels in His creation, so why complain if it's all preordained?
06.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGood Good
I'm guessing his Lord and Savior is mighty upset at Zachary right about now, but he'll seek forgiveness and be fine at the John Deere, where, presumably, no luck is involved.
06.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMashie
So the USGA comes in and blows up greens, converts putting greens to tees, moves entire fairways closer to hazards and this course is all of a sudden the greatest US Open venue? Turn out group think and Merion myopia is alive and well on If this were any other course the comment section would be lot up with complaints of penal design, a tricked up setup and boring sloggy golf.
06.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJRP
I'm rooting for Phil Mickelson to win the U.S. Open.

With no driver in the bag.

And thereby prove Zach Johnson correct.

"Of course" it is a referendum on technology, and the course-setup defense against equipment technology.

Judge Lavin is correct. Mike Davis knows how to set up a golf course to protect par.
06.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChuck
JRP has a point. If a goofy name sneaks in and wins this thing, the exhilaration will fade very, very quickly.
06.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKnockdown
Wow, Zach Haters! He ... he he ... he ... he he he.
06.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTiger Hater
Very surprising comments. Merion is set up just perfect. Par is a great score at any Open. Go back to Iowa Zach. No one cares if you are in Philly this weekend.
06.14.2013 | Unregistered Commentermike
No driver, but a 3-wood that goes 300+ yards when he wants it to. Ain't technology great!

After a quick look, if the cut stays where it is, 14 Major Champions above (one of whom has 14, or 17); 10 below; 1 WD. Tricky, tricky, tricky.
06.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
I thought that was Granny.
06.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterLudell Hogwaller
all we heard was, Merion will be too easy,, shouldn't have the Open. I was hoping it would beat up the pro's a bit, just to quiet the nay sayers. There are always those that cry about every course, every set-up. Nothing new under the sun.
06.14.2013 | Unregistered Commentermixed bag
PGA guys believe their commercials "These guys are good". The open gives young guys a chance to qualify while the PGA makes it increasingly harder for the young to replace the old. Johnson is a good example.
06.14.2013 | Unregistered Commenterpanco
Guess Zach was expecting the TPC Merion. Oops. Ain't no toy tractors as tee markers this week, Zacharoo. This is manly golf.
06.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGolden Bell
Manly golf indeed, you cant even buy a mens visor in the US Open shop. I guess the shop is even manipulated.
Yep, Ludell: Granny. My bad. Anyway, all the cipherin' Zach had to do on his scorecard just got to him, I reckon. He'll be OK next week.
06.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
Another Tiger Rules Fiasco - check it out over at golfclubatlas
06.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterD B F
Lot of Zach hating, but it sounds like he 's played the course too many times in the state that the Club will return it to after the Open
06.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDoug
@DD (DD = Digger Dave = Digsouth????) ....

Cry me a river for those three guys. 3 guys that are supposed to be straight hitting guys off the tee with great wedge/short games and excellent putting can't handle a major championship that calls for stright hitting off the tee, great wedge/short games and excellent putting. Boo Hoo. Maybe Zachs crying about this will get him a Kleenex sponsorship.

Seems many guys without major championships are playing Merion just fine.
06.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterOWGR Fan
Was just watching golf channel with Mike Davis responding to Zach as well as Frank Nobilo having issue with the fairway narrowing. I thought Mike made good points and I'm not understanding the issue people have with those changes. The intent was to get the course to play as it was intended when it was designed and prevent technology from overcoming the length limitations. If a pro now can hit a 5 iron 225 to give them a wedge in, then the target (fairway) should be made smaller to account for that. I'd see the issue if guys were needing to hit driver a bunch of times, but that's not the case.

From listening to more player reactions, I think the valid criticism is some of the pin placements. It seems like the greens are hard enough without putting holes on ridges and valleys.
06.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJeff
Darn that Lord and Savoir who didn't help you hit all the fairways and greens and sink those putts. Gosh, and I thought you two were so tight, Zach. Maybe the Lord had better things to do today than babysit an overpaid, pampered crybaby.

You play golf for a living!

Show some respect to all the people, volunteers and staff, who made this tournament happen, no matter what the set-up is or could have been.
06.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterEat It
I think the lesson we are learning is same guys that don't hit far also can't hit from the deep rough. As much as technology has the changed the game, guys who get through the ball with some velocity will succeed over the short knockers.
06.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Jemsek
>> Another Tiger Rules Fiasco - check it out over at golfclubatlas

Somebody saw a player lift a ball and talk to an official and that constitutes a "fiasco"? Sheesh
06.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Peterson
Is Zach right? Is the course 'manipulated' ? Seems it to me. Long rough everywhere. Greens 13 on the stimp, and fairway bunkers disjointed from the fairway.
06.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMatthewM
Wait, the USGA tricks up their golf courses? You're KIDDING me!!

2 things:

1) Zach is 100% right

2) Zach is a total idiot

It's like he bought a ticket to his 10th AC/DC concert and is now complaining that it's too loud.

You know what you're getting into when you arrive at a Mike Davis setup.
06.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike U (LA, CA)
The bottom line - and what makes golf such a great sport - is that everyone plays the EXACT same course. There is no favoritism. Sure Merion is playing wicked hard, but that should've been expected going in. COME ON MAN!
06.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSeattle Jake

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