Herrington on Merion

merion logo.gifGolf World's Ryan Herrington has an excellent game story on the U.S. Amateur at Merion, with a surprising insight into Edoardo Molinari's daily ritual (packing) before his matches.

There is also a sidebar at the end of the piece on Merion's U.S. Open chances. The Executive Director is quotes. Not only does Mr. Fay call on yet another baseball analogy, he offers this on the USGA having to take a financial hit by going to Merion.

"I understand also full well that the U.S. Open is the engine that drives the entire organization. But you konw I've got two daughters. Maybe some year I have to budget for a wedding. So what will I do? Scale back somewhere else for the year." 

I guess that $530,000 salary (and $62,000 in expenses) just doesn't go as far as it used to.

More Merion Reviews

Here's the New York Times story...wait, they didn't cover the Amateur. They did pick up an AP story.

Mike Kern in the Philadelphia Daily News writes about Merion's Open chances, and he's lukewarm. He notes that some of the players were "hitting wedges into No. 18, a hole Ben Hogan made famous in 1950 with a 1-iron approach. Just thought it was worth mentioning."

Kern obviously missed the moment on The Golf Channel when David Fay brought Hogan's 1-iron and noted that Hogan was very tired in the afternoon round of 36, which is why he needed to hit 1-iron into the green.

And Joe Logan, who has been pretty high on Merion's Open worthiness, seems to have been influenced by Edoardo Molinari's play on Sunday. He hopes Merion sets its sights on more Amateurs:

I hope Merion celebrates the success of the Amateur and the strength of its golf course.

And then, I hope somebody at Merion with a lot of sense and a lot of influence pipes up and says, "What more do we need to prove? Forget the Open. Let's do an Amateur every 10 years."

Merion Finale

merion logo.gifWhat's the Farmer's Almanac saying about Ardmore in June of 2013? Hope it's not rain! Seven birdies in 15 holes for U.S. Amateur champion Edoardo Molinari in the afternoon? Perhaps some of those Merion hasn't become outdated by the USGAS's inept handling of equipment stories were filed just a wee bit soon?

Either way, Merion put on a great show and deserves to be the host of as many USGA championships as they want. Besides making less money in 2013, who cares if it rains a bit and the winner is 18 under? Oh wait...I forgot who I was dealing with for a second.

Anyway, the USGA game story is here. And here are Ken Klavon's notes, looking at how Molinari made 7 birdies in the final 15 holes. Impressive stuff.

Here's the USGA.org story on the Dougherty's, truly one of the more impressive performances in a long time. It was pretty hard to imagine the emotions they were experiencing and pretty much impossible not to root for Dougherty to win after the unfortunate passing of his golfing grandfather.

Here's Molinari's transcript and Dougherty's. And here's the match scorecard.

Merion Day 5

merion logo.gifBoy, glad they took those trees out on the right of 16 approach so the guys could drive it on the strip up to 15 tee! Options galore!

Seriously, nice coverage from NBC. But Jennifer Mills could be the worst post round interviewer of all time. Anyway Joe Logan pens a must read on one of Merion's caddies who looped for George Zahringer this week.l

Ken Klavon at USGA.org writes about the all Canada quarterfinal match between Deacon and the easy-to-root-against Leon. And Klavon sums up the other matches. Saturday TV Time is 4 EST on NBC.

Merion 14 Redux**

Courtesy of reader Richard:


The 14th hole in 1930 (left) and an aerial of today's hole, with an overlay in green showing the 1930 fairway width over today's setup (minus the wood chip nursery left, or whatever that gray area visible on TV is). Note how the risk/reward element of flirting with the road left is eliminated in an attempt to put a longer approach iron in the player's hands.

**On closer inspection, and with the help of TiVo, the block of stuff between the road and left rough appears to be a dead fescue farm. Or maybe it's Featherbed Bent? Either way, it used to be fairway in the old days before the guys started working out so much, forcing people to create strange fairway contouring.

Merion Fairway Contours

merion14.jpgmerion16.jpgSo with all of this talk about Merion's meticulous restoration work to get the course resembling 1930, no one seems to mention the chintzy fairway gerrymandering to mask how short some of the holes would play if they had 1930 fairway contours.

For starters, what is this year's wood chip nursery running up the left side of 14 to force the players to play way out to the right?  Note in this 1930 aerial photo (left) how the 14th fairway hugs the road on the left.  Today there appears to be 10 yards of wood chips (or whatever that is) and another five or six yards of rough between chip nursery and fairway.

Also check out the photo of #16 (right) and how the fairway hugs the left fairway bunker. There looks to be 10-15 yards of rough to the right of that same bunker this week. As with #14, someone is trying to force the players out right to make the hole play longer because, well...the kids are just really working out a lot!

FYI: The lines indicate how Bobby Jones played the holes in his 1930 U.S. Amateur qualifying rounds.

And FYI II: The 14th green played today is not in the same location as the green site used in 1930. The green was shifted for the 1934 U.S. Open, and never restored to its original location. Same deal with the second green.

Merion Day 4 Vol. 2

usga banner.jpgUSGA.org has a nice summary of the quarterfinalists at Merion, maintaining the fine job the web site has done covering the event.

Here are the Thursday interviews from the U.S. Amateur.  And at the Buick (Hartford edition), Pepperdine's Michael Putnam explains how and why he turned pro, after playing a practice round at Marion (yes, that's the ASAP transcript spelling...just like the Thomas course in Massachusetts).

Merion's Open Dream**

merion logo.gifWilliam Gildea in the Washington Post offers a lengthy overview of Merion's quest to get a U.S. Open.

"Is the course long enough? I believe it is," David Fay asked and answered himself. "They have lengthened their traditional long holes to the point they are really long. It's a lot closer to 7,000 yards than one thinks. And they have sexy short holes, [par] 4s and some 3s."

And regarding judgements about whether the course is suitable for an Open, look to the scores. What else is there?

"Stroke play is a factor," said Bill Iredale, Merion's general chairman. "If many of the young players come in with 65s, then maybe the course is not difficult enough for the pros."

You know, why don't they just stop this silliness and award the 2013 Open to Merion? So the USGA make $15 million less one year?  Is the money that important to them?

Wait, I'm asking rhetorical questions now just like the Executive Director. Oh no!

** Did you catch the Walter Driver interview during Thursday's coverage? Spellbinding as always. Despite attempts by Dan Hicks to setup him up for a "Merion is back" home run, Driver took the pitch and focused on the lack of space to provide the experience for all of the people who want to see the Open. In other words, not enough gallery and corporate tent space. And it sounds like a no-vote from Driver.

Merion Day 3

merion logo.gifWow, Merion looked really good. Imagine how great it would look with fairways!

Seriously, NBC/The Golf Channel made up for their less than stellar coverage of the Walker Cup by doing an excellent job on day one. Great camera work, aerial fly overs and solid commentary from the on-course reporters. Though I don't know about the story Gary Koch was given on the four experimental approaches taken with the Merion bunkers during the renovation (uh, wasn't it more like trial by error?).

Here are the round 1 results. And here's the match play tree. Note the match up of fifty-something George Zahringer vs. 16-year-old Oliver Fisher (with the Ernie Els swing). They are teeing off at 1:45 eastern, meaning we should see most of their back nine.

Here are the TV times, with The Golf Channel coming on at 4 m est. tomorrow, 3 pm est. Friday and NBC carrying the weekend play.

If I Had Tiger's Money They'd Never Find Me

merion logo.gifMike Kern in the Philadelphia Daily News catches up with Chris Patton, the heavyset 1989 U.S. Amateur Champion at Merion.
For one week in August 16 years ago, Patton owned the sport. The 6-1 Clemson senior, who made Craig Stadler look like Richard Simmons, came to Merion as a relative unknown and left with a place in history. He won the U.S. Amateur, beating another surprise, 32-year-old Danny Green, in the 36-hole final, 3 and 1. Phil Mickelson and Jay Sigel were among the favorites that year.

It made for great copy. The Amateur returns to Merion next week for the first time since then. Patton's story will be replayed. He had never seen the course before. He has never been back. His caddie, Chris Stout, had never seen it before, either. "So we're standing on the tee," Patton said at the time, "and I ask him what the hole does, and he says, 'I don't really know.' So right away, I'm thinking this ain't too great. But he turned out to be a big help. I really appreciated him pushing me along. Together, we sort of figured it out."
And my favorite line from Patton:
"You know, if I had Tiger's money," he confides, "they'd never find me."
Frank Fitzpatrick in the Philadelphia Inquirer writes about another U.S. Amateur winner at Merion, Bobby Jones.

More Merion Previews

Joe Logan writes about the youth movement in amateur golf. The article also has a link to a nice U.S. Amateur site set up by the club.

merion logo.gifMark Wogenrich in The Morning Call also writes about Merion's desperation to host a U.S. Open.

He picks up this nugget from a recent CBS telecast:

''It's a matter of the USGA sitting down and saying, 'What's important to us,''' announcer Jim Nantz said of Merion and a possible U.S. Open bid. ''Is it more important to sell a lot of hospitality tents or is it important to take our great championship to the best courses in America?''

And here's what the USGA Executive Committee's Craig Ammerman tells Wogenrich: ''We're wary of saying to the corporate community, 'We're having the U.S. Open in Philadelphia, so don't come,''' Ammerman said.