ARDMORE, Pa. – The question was asked long before the first tee shot of this 113th U.S. Open was even struck: Will this be the last Open at Merion?
Fittingly, Mike Davis pondered that very query at Wednesday’s USGA news conference.
“This golf course is so magical that, yes, we want to see this week play out, but personally I’d already like to see us return,” he said. “We haven’t seen anything that would say, no, we won’t come back here. Everything has worked so well.
“And for anybody to think that these rain events would curtail our enthusiasm for this, you’re misguided. We have nothing to say but positive things about Merion now.”
Yes, it’s no secret that the USGA would prefer that the 6,996-yard East Course play fast and firm, but that doesn’t appear as though it will be the case this year after it was deluged by more than 6 1/2 inches of rain in the past four days.
Consequently, predictions for the winning score have ranged from 5 under to 15 under.
The USGA, for its part, says it doesn’t matter.
“It’s not about a score,” said Tom O’Toole, the USGA’s championship committee chairman. “Sure, we want it firm and fast. But we happen to play a sport that’s played outdoors.”
“We want this to be the most complete test of golf we can have,” Davis said. “Do we want it to be difficult? Absolutely. That’s in our DNA. But at the same time, this is not all about difficulty. If our only goal was to make it difficult, believe me, that’s easy to do. But that’s not what we’re trying to do. We really want to test every shot that the players are going to encounter, every club in their bag. …
“Wenever sit around and talk about the score. This notion that even par has to win or it’s not going to be a good Open, we never talk about that because we know we can’t ultimately control that. It’s not something that we would use as a barometer or a metric for success.”