Category: 2013 U.S. Open

June 24, 2013

$10,000 worth of alcohol stolen from U.S. Open tent

Posted at 5:07 PM by Coleman McDowell

Unattended alcohol sitting on a college campus is begging for trouble.

In the week following the U.S. Open, $10,000 worth of alcohol was stolen from the U.S. Open Trophy Club tent that resided on the lawn of Haverford College right down the road from Merion Golf Club, according to and the Haverford Township Police.

The USGA spectator guide describes the Trophy Club as "an exclusive on-site, air-conditioned pavilion with live U.S. Open coverage located at Haverford College, approximately 400 yards from the clubhouse parking area and the 18th hole at Merion Golf Club."

The logistics of stealing $10,000 worth of liquor don't seem simple. This was quite the operation. Could it be fans who were denied entry seeking their revenge? Was it players who suffered through four rounds of sloping fairways and calf-high rough? Or was it just college freshman who wanted some free booze?

Stay tuned..

Father and son record consecutive aces on Father's Day

Posted at 3:14 PM by Coleman McDowell

The-Whiteners-who-hit-hole-in-ones-on-the-same-hole-Houston-ChronicleSunday at the U.S. Open provided a memorable Father's Day moment as Justin Rose held his trophy toward the sky to honor his father who had died of leukemia in 2002.

More than 1,500 miles away in Texas, another incredible Father's Day moment took place.

Lonnie Whitener and his 13-year-old son Zach each made a hole-in-one during a Father's Day round at River Pointe Golf Club in Richmond, Texas. The kicker? They made their aces on the same hole.

Lonnie, 57, used a gap-wedge that struck the pin and dropped in the cup on the 115-yard par-3. Zach's tee box was moved up to 100 yards, and his six-iron landed on the green and rolled in.

“It’s probably going to be the most memorable thing we accomplish together,” Lonnie told the Houston Chronicle. “We’ll remember this forever. Now I can tell anyone, ‘Give me your best golf story, and I’ll one-up you.’ ”

(Photo: Houston Chronicle)

June 16, 2013

Ernie Els doesn't like it when you bring up things he said

Posted at 10:50 PM by Coleman McDowell

Ernie-els-open_300In his first meeting with the media during the week of the U.S. Open, Ernie Els said this:

"I see a very close race with a lot of players in contention this year, unlike other U.S. Opens.  It's going to be bunched. It's going to be under par, you'll be seeing quite a few numbers in the red."

In his last meeting with the media during the week of the U.S. Open, Ernie Els said this:

Q. You said at the beginning early at the practice stages that you expected a bunched up ‑‑

ELS:  I didn't say that. Let's get this straight. Somebody else said it. And I didn't agree with it. So let's just get the stuff straight here.

Q. You said a bunch of guys would be bunched up right at the end?

ELS: Am I wrong or right? I'm out of here. 

You be the judge. But I think he's wrong.

(Photo: Morry Gash/AP)

Brandt Snedeker doesn't think U.S. Open should return to Merion

Posted at 10:30 PM by Coleman McDowell

SnedekerARDMORE, Pa. -- Like a child who outgrows his first pair of expensive tennis shoes, Snedeker thinks the U.S. Open has gotten too big for vintage Merion.

"As great as this week was, I think the U.S. Open has kind of moved past one of these venues," said Snedeker, who finished at 10-over par, good for 17th place. "It's been great to be part of it. I love the history here, but there's so much more that goes in a U.S. Open than just golf. I don't think it is unless something happens drastically in the next ten years where they're able to move some stuff around or redo the routing around here. We had some problems here."

Snedeker, seventh overall in the World Ranking, was a rare exception in the otherwise overwhelming support among pros for a return trip to Merion. Snedeker added that the golfers had help for handling the logistics. It was the fans who suffered from the smaller venue.

"Only letting 15,000 people experience this championship is probably on the low end," Snedeker said. "It would be great to see 40,000 or 50,000 fans out there to enjoy it. I thought they did the best with what they had. It was just from an infrastructure standpoint, it's just lacking a few things. And they did the best with what they could, and they used homes. They did what they could to make this the best way possible and it ran great."

Snedeker re-emphasized that none of the players complained about the setup, but the tournament had outgrown venues like Merion.

"Just from an infrastructure standpoint, from a fan standpoint, from a global marketing standpoint, I feel like this tournament needs more space to put on a championship in the right way," Snedeker said.

(Photo: Robert Beck / Sports Illustrated)

June 15, 2013

Merion chews up and spits out several big-names

Posted at 1:17 PM by Coleman McDowell

Graeme_300ARDMORE, Pa. -- Some cupcake.

As the final groups snuck in their last holes Friday, the projected cut line at the U.S. Open had jumped to 7-over. Dustin Johnson (ranked 19th in the world) and Brandt Snedeker (7th) went to bed outside that mark, but after the sun rose on Merion, the cut settled at 8-over, so Sneds and DJ got to hang around for the weekend. 

Several other top players didn't wake up to similar news, but they might be glad not to see Merion's red wicker baskets anytime soon. The historic course didn't treat many of the world's top players too kindly.

The biggest disappointment might be Graeme McDowell [right]. Tabbed by analysts to be in the final groups on Sunday, the No. 8-ranked player in the world had more double-bogeys (7) than birdies (5) and only hit 60.8 percent of fairways in his two rounds of 76 and 77.

"This place is very hard," said McDowell, the 2010 U.S. Open champ. “I'll shake it off and I'll get ready for The Open Championship in a few weeks time. That's my next target.”

Short-hitter Zach Johnson was a popular sleeper pick to compete at Merion's course where driver distance would be neutralized. Not the case. He hit 22 of 28 fairways, but finished with rounds of 74 and 77 for a total of 11-over. The 2007 Masters champ didn't mince words after his round, according to the Golf Channel. 

“I would describe the whole golf course as manipulated,” Johnson said. “It just enhances my disdain for the USGA and how it manipulates golf courses."

The leader in fairways hit, Jordan Hicks, who hit 13 of 14 each round, didn't translate that success to the course as he finished 76-73. Another short knocker, Tim Clark, finished 70-79.

Keegan Bradley could only watch as playing partners Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker hung around the top of the leaderboard Friday afternoon while Bradley languished behind. His 77-75 sent him packing for the weekend.

On the 10th anniversary of his 2003 U.S. Open victory at Olympia Fields, Jim Furyk exited stage left after a 77-79 in his home state. Furyk has struggled at other Open venues, but seemed legitimately sad at this being his last competitive round at Merion.

"And then to come back here is a bummer," Furyk lamented. "Later in my career at 43, there's not going to be another tournament here at Merion through my career, at least not maybe until the Champions Tour."

He sounds like the only player who isn't going to have nightmares featuring wicker baskets and mud balls for weeks.

Photo: Graeme McDowell at Merion on Wednesday (Getty Images).

June 14, 2013

VIDEO: Wayward tee shot interrupts Carl Pettersson's approach shot in backswing

Posted at 1:36 PM by Coleman McDowell

ARDMORE, Pa. -- Merion is playing tough -- and that's without your ball becoming a moving target in your backswing. 

While on the fifth hole Friday morning, Carl Pettersson was about to hit his approach into the 504-yard par-4 when a ball came bounding across the fairway directly towards him. When Pettersson took his club back, his ball was there. But before he entered his downswing, it was gone. The intruding ball had knocked Pettersson's ball between his legs.  

The culprit? Brandon Crick, former college standout at Nebraska who made it into the U.S. Open field by way of local qualifying. With the most precise timing and aim, Crick managed to move Pettersson's ball right out from under him. Crick played his ball from where it stopped, while Pettersson was allowed to move his ball back to its original location without penalty.

Was this a once-in-a-blue-moon accident? Maybe. Or could it be the first domino to fall in Mike Davis's plan to sabotage golfers who use belly putters? (Like our unsuspecting victim, Pettersson)

Pettersson went on to make a bogey. Crick managed a birdie.

Step one of Davis' plan is complete. Watch out Tim Clark. 

June 13, 2013

Tiger gives Rory little brother treatment at U.S. Open Champions Dinner

Posted at 2:13 PM by Coleman McDowell


We rarely get to see the lighter side of Tiger Woods. When we do, it's awesome.

At last night's U.S. Open Champions Dinner, Tiger was caught flicking fellow Nike compadre Rory McIlroy's ear, much to the delight/surprise of last year's champ Webb Simpson.

Did a tousle of Rory's hair follow?

(Photo: Darren Carroll / USGA)

Phil Mickelson ditches driver in favor of five wedges

Posted at 10:57 AM by Coleman McDowell

MickelsonDid Phil Mickelson leave his driver in California? 

Following an early morning flight to Philadelphia from San Diego , Mickelson showed up at Merion with five wedges in his bag instead of a driver, according to the Associated Press. The 3-wood he'll use off the tee isn't his "Phrankenwood," but he can still carry 280 with the club.

Over the years, Mickelson has always been open to altering his club selection according to the tournament venue or weather. His short game coach, Dave Pelz, said in 2008 that Phil has 19 clubs that he feels comfortable rotating in and out. 

Phil's "Phrankenwood," a driver with a three-wood sized head, is just the latest in a list of notable equipment strategies he has used in the past. He won the 2006 Masters with two drivers (one set up to draw, one to fade), went with no driver for the first two rounds in the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines where he finished in 18th, and he broke out a nine-year-old Titleist fairway wood for the 2012 BMW Championship. 

Before the weather delay, Mickelson was even through five holes with one birdie and one bogey.

Few boos for Sergio Garcia on first tee at Merion

Posted at 9:57 AM by Mike Walker
Sergio Garcia hits his tee shot on the par-3 13th at Merion on Thursday morning (Getty Images).

Philadelphia's famously tough fans have booed hall of famers and even Santa Claus -- hey, Santa had it coming -- but the fans at the U.S. Open were easy on Sergio Garcia on Thursday morning at Merion following Garcia's well-publicized dustup with Tiger Woods.

Garcia is even through three holes, although he hooked his tee shot O.B. on the 14th hole before play was suspended due to heavy rain. Garcia and playing partners Padraig Harrington and Stewart Cink started play on the 11th hole.

June 12, 2013

Report: USGA to lose $10 million on U.S. Open

Posted at 5:00 PM by Coleman McDowell

The selection of Merion Golf Club for the 113th U.S. Open was an expensive decision for the USGA. The small size of Merion (just 111 acres) and its location in the heart of a well-populated suburb just miles from Philadelphia forced the USGA to limit ticket sales. According to Bloomberg Businessweek's Michael Buteau, the USGA is set to lose $10 million on the event.

In acknowledging history, the USGA is squeezing a 21st Century event, its fans, sponsors and media into a course built 117 years ago. Merion, in suburban Philadelphia, is about half the size of last year’s U.S. Open host, San Francisco’s Olympic Club.

Ticket sales were limited to 25,000 a day, down about 45 percent from the typical 40,000-45,000. Fewer fans means less revenue from concessions and merchandise. The USGA, which governs the sport in the U.S. and Mexico, is expecting to lose $10 million on the event, according to a person with knowledge of the organization’s finances. The person was granted anonymity because the information isn’t public.

“I don’t think we’ll make up for the loss,” Sarah Hirshland, senior managing director of Business Affairs for the USGA, said in a telephone interview. “Clearly these line items will look different this year.”

In a Q&A published in the June issue of Golf Magazine, Mike Davis, executive editor of the USGA, admitted this year's Open would lose some money due to the size constraints at Merion, but said that money is not the deciding factor in selecting Open venues.

Is it true you'll lose money on this Open?

We've never selected a U.S. Open based on money. We want to be fiscally responsible; we know that's the engine that drives everything we do. I don't want to get off-topic, but the amount of money we put back into the game is significant. If you conservatively look at what the USGA has spent directly back into the game, it's almost a billion dollars in the last 12 years. There isn't anybody putting that kind of money back into the game. So we do need to be responsible.

But will the USGA lose money?

We find that when we go to a big venue like Bethpage or Pinehurst, they make millions and millions of dollars more. You go to a little site like Oakmont, Winged Foot, they will make some money, but after expenses, not a significant amount. And I'm excluding the television rights fee, because with that it doesn't matter if it's a big or a small site. But when you go to an ultra-small site like Merion, it's true, we won't make money -- in fact, we'll lose some money. But we look at it from a standpoint of a five-year period, and we're very comfortable with where we are.

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