We have all kinds of story lines this week at Merion. There is the golf course, a short but tricky East Course. The power trio of Woods, Scott and Rory. And Sergio Garcia. Let's get started.
Where do you think Lefty ends up this weekend? I think this is his week. He finally gets the job done.
Lefty is prepared and probably anxious to get started on Thursday. He's been waiting a lifetime to win a U.S. Open. He wants the career grand slam.
My five in the pool ... Mickelson, Scott, Westwood, Mahan, Furyk ... thoughts?
Where is Tiger Woods on your list?
under the radar golfer that can hit straight to be in the hunt on sunday afternoon - do you expect any lift clean and place golf this week
Never. Lift, clean and place in a major. Never. Players could get a free drop around casual water in the fairways.
Gotta pick one for my office pool! McDowell, Rose, Day, or Scott?
Who do you think will win the US Open in 2013?
Let's say it stayed dry Tuesday and Wednesday and got one inch of rain on Thursday followed by sunny and windy days the rest of the weekend. Does it become one of those tourneys where you'll see low scoring the first two rounds and then maybe a more prototypical, hold-on-to-your-hats, par is golden us open?
John,It's going to get harder as the tournament goes anyway because of the mounting pressure that comes with being in contention in a major championship. But you could be right that there are some very low scores early. Then as thinking dry a little bit, it might get tougher. And consider pin placements and the wind. It's a quirky golf course.
Does a short and soft us open help or hurt tiger?
Tiger has won tournaments under every conceivable condition.
Big fan of your work. Where do you think Merion ranks in terms of hardest courses on the US Open circuit over the last 10 years?
Pete,It's hard to answer that question right now. The pros haven't played it since 1981. And that year David Graham finished at 7 under--then the second lowest 72 hole total in the tournaments history. We'll have a better sense of its difficulty tomorrow. But generally the players feel like they can make a lot of birdies out there.
I dont think rory is in the hunt this weekend am i wrong
You certainly can't discount a two-time major winner in the prime of his career. But to your point, maybe, Rory hasn't shown us much this year to indicate that we should take for granted that he will be in the hunt on Sunday.
I dont think rory is in the hunt this weekend am i wrong
I know that all four majors have a certain allure about them. In your opinion, what makes the US Open so special? (sorry for the general question)
Roger,Good question. For one, the sectional qualifier is unique. Second, it's historically had the most difficult setup. The USGA has been very self-conscious about making par mean something at this event.
Looking at the forecast - looks like a big storm is coming in tonight. 60% chance of rain tomorrow and 50% on Friday. How much more water can this course take before it basically deemed unplayable?
Duane,According to Mike Davis of the USGA, Merion drains very well.
Has Sergios recent media troubles all of a sudden made him underrated? I've heard personalities and analysts on ESPN shows refer to him as a "clown" and that he hasnt done anything worth mentioning since the PGA in 1999. Certainly he deserves more credit than that right?
Steven,Absolutely. I have been very careful not to use this sage with Tiger as a way to bash his career as a player. Sure, Sergio should have won more, but he's had a nice career with some very good and some very mediocre years. But he is solidly a top 30 player in the world, in my book.
Who do you think wins the US Open and what will they shoot?
Someone will reach 9 under. That person is Tiger Woods.
What do you think is the winning score this week?
Tiger seems to be a guy that has trouble adjusting to conditions, and mentally he's thinking US Open (hard). I can see him having trouble adjusting. Conversely I think soft conditions really help Rory, who is aggressive anyways
Shosheak,I think you are on to something. Tiger does tend to overanalyze, obsess even over minor details. It works most of the time for him, but if Rory is beside him playing aggressive and making birdies, TW might reassess his strategy.
Who is this year's Webb Simpson/Geoff Ogilvy?
Matt Kuchar or Scott Stallings.
Seems like fans are sleeping on Hunter Mahan going into this one. If not this US Open, do you think he ever wins a major?
Ted,Hunter hasn't had top 10 since he finished second in the match Play in February. We shouldn't count him out, but we also shouldn't discount that he hasn't been very sharp.
With the course softening up considerably, does that open the door for a player like Matteo Manassero to steal the show?
Bryan,Fast and hard is better for shorter player like Matteo. This event is about fairways and greens and putting and scrambling. Since merino doesn't call for long driving, there will be less of an premium on hitting fairways because most players will be able to hit clubs to hit most fairways.
Not sure if he counts as a sleeper, but a guy I like this week (besides Tiger) is Rose, he hits long irons and wedges well, and hits a lot of greens. Other than Tiger, who ya got?
Yes, J-Rose is solid. I like Matt Kuchar and Scott Stallings, who has had top 5s in his last three starts.
Conditions of the course this week are going to be unfortunate. Not going to do Merion justice. I was really looking forward to seeing these guys have to hit shots and not just bomb it off the tee. These guys are going to light this course up with the soft conditions. I could see -15 winning it.
Clay,I hope you are wrong. As I said earlier, 9 under is a good number
Farrell, if the "Doomsday" scenario plays out and they are forced to use a hole or two from the West course, how would it work logistically? My understanding is that the courses are not that close to one another.
Mike Davis said that the chances of this happening are very remote. But yes, it's a logistical nightmare.
How devistating is the rough? Is it the "worst ever" as Ernie claimed?
The USGA got rid of the graduated rough. It's wet right now. I don't know that it's the worst ever. Els is exaggerating a bit.
I keep hearing in all the player's interviews that this course is playing a lot longer than 7,000 yards. Would you be shocked if -4 or above wins it?
Jason Dufner has a pretty good major record. Does he have a shot this week?
Dufner hasn't done much all year. At the Players he told me his game was just "average." He's a pretty straight hitter off the tee and a nice iron player. At the 2011 PGA, he proved that he could play under pressure. Maybe that experience might push him forward this week.
Couple Lefty questions. 1) Do you like his eschewing The Memorial and replacing it with Memphis to get competitive rounds the week prior to the US Open? 2) While attending his daughter's graduation ceremony is a no brainer, will it potentially cost him a good round tomorrow?
1. Yes, Phil likes to play the week before a major. 2. Phil is pro and ambitious as they come in the game. It won't hurt him a bit this week.
What do you think about Brent Snedekercoming into this week? I think he's a great sleeper who will be in contention this week.
Stephen,Sneds is a great putter. He's got the poor final round from the Masters in April in the back of his mind. If he can get over that he might contend on Sunday. But bad rounds in majors don't go away easily.
Farrell, it sounds like the fans will be right on top of the players this year. Will that have a legitimate impact on the players or is it no noticeable difference for them?
Cody,No reason to see this as a problem. Inside the fairway, the players barely notice the fans.
If it rains as much as anticipated tomorrow, and the 11th hole is washed out and they must use a hole or two on the West course, how would they handle that logistically? My understanding is that the courses are not that close to each other.
There is a very remote chance that this would happen. They don't even want to discuss that.
Is the course really that soft?? Are they able to at least keep the greens firm??
The greens aren't hard. Any level of softness is good for the players.
You're pretty confident in Tiger this weekend ... so his performance from a couple weeks ago won't have any effect on his play at Merion?
As I said, TW is capable of playing very poorly. There is no doubt about that. Memorial just told us that he's got some bad rounds in him right now. He might have another one this week. But overall, he will be consistent and be there at the end.
What do you think about Rickie Fowler and his chances this week?
Rickie went 4-0 in his matches when the Walker Cup was held at Merion in 2009. He likes the course. But he might be too streaky at this point in his career to put together four good rounds under this kind of pressure.
Farrell, if you would pick a winner besides Tiger, who would it be.
Matt Kuchar, two-time winner this year over great fields at the Match Play and the Memorial.
In the event both Thurs. and Fri. rounds get rained out - how would USGA proceed with tournament. 36 on Sat. establish cut and play 18 Sun and Mon?
Cliff,That schedule doesn't seem possible, but I can't imagine another plausible scenario. There are just too many players.
No way to play 36 till after cut, would prob be 18 sat/sun cut & 36 Monday, I'd think
36 on Monday would be a beast. Can you imagine if they had to go to a 18 hole playoff the next day?
Who is your dark horse pick to win the US open that has never won a major? and dark horse that has won a major?
dark horse without major: Scott Stallingsdark horse with a major: Padraig Harrington
Does Merion have subair systems under the greens that suck moisture out of them? Can the USGA still get the greens pretty firm even with a decent amount of rain?
I don't think Merion has that system.
36 then 18 for a playoff? That'd be Hoganesque :)
The quality of golf probably wouldn't be great.
As we stand here on the eve of a major, right now, who are your 5 best who have yet to bag a big one?
Matt Kuchar, Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, Luke Donald and Steve Stricker. That's six.
Random question, but does Lee Westwood ever win a major?
Gary,Westwood's short game is not elite. So it's tough to bet on him.
Curious as to why you think the score (-9) will be so good? Outside of Congo a couple years back, US Open scores generally tend to be higher than that.
Mark,David Graham finished at 7 under in 81 on a Merion east course that was 6,500 yards. Thje field is much deeper now and the equipment is more forgiving. And the course is wet.
any suggestion on if the early or late start will be better Thursday and Friday?
If you can get out early before the rains. You might have more time to rest if the first round is forced to go into Friday. The morning guys could see a course a little harder than the afternoon players who see rain. So it all depends on when it rains and how much.
Is the US Open the one major where some might prefer finishing a few groups ahead of the leaders and posting a score on Sunday?
Absolutely. You always want to post a number, especially at a place like Merion, where the teeth of the course is in the last five holes.
Thanks for your time. Enjoy the golf this week and follow our live coverage over the next four days of the 113th U.S. Open at Merion.