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#AskLav: Plenty of Merion talk to go 'round

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We’re only seven days away from what should be one of the most fascinating U.S. Opens in recent memory, so long as you can appreciate an intriguing course setup, hallway-sized landing areas, terrorizing greens and wrist-snapping rough. This major championship test – as much as the anchoring debate – will help shape Mike Davis’ legacy.

But before heading north to Merion, we first pause to answer your questions about the Open in this week’s #AskLav mailbag:

Two words: No. Chance. The USGA wants to see drama and suspense, not assault with a deadly weapon.

Great question. In order: Kuchar, Rose, Poulter, Donald, Mahan and Fowler. Kooch has ascended to No. 2 overall in the #AskLav Power Rankings heading to Merion, on the strength of his thoroughly impressive triumph at Muirfield Village. A major title is next in his natural progression. Im still bullish on Roses major potential too, even though hes cooled lately. But to have a chance at the Open, hell need to perform better on the greens (156th in strokes gained-putting).

Under par ' well under par ' especially if the East Course is soaked by rain at some point during the week. A firm-and-fast setup, along with the punishing closing stretch, is this tracks main defense. Id peg the winning score somewhere around 10- to 12-under par.

Well, the odds are against a repeat winner, at least recently. Thirteen of the last 16 majors winners, dating to the 2009 U.S. Open, have been first-timers. With that in mind, would it surprise me at all to see players such as Tiger, G-Mac, Furyk or Zach Johnson win at Merion? Absolutely not.

Check back in a week and a half, but Im tempted to agree that its likely a one-and-done host this century. This is a USGA experiment ' a worthwhile one, at that ' and it could shape the way the U.S. Open is contested in coming years. If the winning score next week is lower than 15 under, and the distance issue in golf isnt soon addressed, you can bet we wont head back to Ardmore, Pa.

Forget long and short. The winner needs to find the fairway, distance be damned. Yes, the last few holes will require beefy approach shots, but if youve seen any of the pictures tweeted by Tour pros this week, the rough will be menacing. Finding the short stuff is step No. 1, then go from there.

Nice boss, huh? Take Tuesday. Many of the players will have scouted the course in the weeks prior to the Open, but Tuesday is the last serious day of work for many. Wednesday, youll see, is eerily quiet.

Best question of the week! Tweet me some suggestions for places I absolutely have to eat next week near Merion. For strictly research purposes, of course, Ill try as many as humanly possible.