Who Will Win at Merion? Print
Written by BRUNO   

Merion East 5th hole

 

 

Ever since I first laid eyes on Merion's East Course on July 4th, 2011, it has been my personal

favorite parkland type course design. I have analyzed every aspect of Hugh Wilson's brilliant

layout during my site visits and also when I played Merion with Greens Department staffer

Dave Petfield two summers ago.


My conclusion regarding what it will take to win the U.S Open - the champion will need to be a

world class iron player and be amongst the best shortgame players in the world. Those

two attributes immediately bring three names to mind: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Luke

Donald.

 

Merion's 115 yard - 13th hole

 

 

Lets breakdown those three. Tiger is having his best year (up to this point) in a long time. His iron

game is superior, and his shortgame and putter are close to what they were in his dominant

years. Once again ranked #1, TW has the swagger back, and that's scary for the rest of the tour.

Although Tiger is the favorite, he has never competed at Merion, has never won a major on a par

70 layout, and struggled mightily in his last outing (at Muirfield Village for The Memorial). He will

contend this week, and if his the putter lights up, his 15th major is a real possibility . . . but he is

not my pick.


Phil Mickelson has 5 runner up finishes at the U.S Open, and for the opposite reasons, Lefty has

a serious chance. Mickelson did compete at Merion in the 1989 U.S Amateur, and he was red hot

last week at Memphis finishing tied for 2nd . . . but like TW, Phil has a few reasons that might hinder

his chances. After seeing the rain on Monday, Phil left Merion and traveled back to California to attend

his daughter Amanda's 8th grade graduation on Wednesday. Great to see that Phil has his priorities

in order, but that's alot of travel - from San Diego to Memphis, then Memphis to Philadelphia, then

Philadelphia to San Diego, then San Diego back to Philadelphia. Considering he turns 43 years old

on Sunday, and has never won this event, it might be a tall order to overcome so many hurdles.

having said all that, if anyone can defy logic, it's Phil. His irons and shortgame are as good as Tiger's,

so the tools are there.



The gorgeous quarry 16th hole at Merion

 


Then there is Luke Donald. I know, he is off form . . . but this course is not the norm. It's shorter than

most major venues, it has many tight holes that won't allow too many drivers to be played, and length

won't be a factor. This is Luke's chance to show what can happen when a major comes to an old school

classic venue. No longer ranked in the top three, Luke is under the radar and under no pressure. His

shortgame is on par with the best in the world, and his short irons and putter can be down right amazing.

Call it a bit of a gut call, but I see Luke Donald edging out the two heavyweights as the Champion of

the 2013 U.S Open.