McDowell said the two keys this week are finding fairways off the tee, and hitting wedges well. Merion demands it, especially this week, with the rough so high. Simpson lost two balls during his practice round on Sunday, despite missing the fairway by less than 5 feet.
Because of the narrow fairways, and the danger of missing them, many players will keep their driver in the bag for much of the tournament. Whether that’s an indictment on Merion or a sign of the current state of the game, time will tell.
There are plenty of people rooting for the course this week, instead of the players. They want jewels like Merion, constrained by space but bursting with history and nostalgia, to remain relevant, and having the world’s best golfers orchestrate a low-scoring assault might be the surest sign that they’ll never come back.
Which would be a shame.
“Merion’s considered an old-style golf course, under 7,000 yards, but yet we’re still having a US Open here in 2013,” Simpson said. “I think it’s pretty remarkable for them.”