June 5, 2013

2013 U.S. Open Preview

By - Brad Heerschop

The second PGA "Major" of the year will be underway in just over one week's time, with the 113th edition of the United States Open Championship scheduled to tee off on June 14th.

For only the sixth time in U.S. Open history (and the first since 1981), the tournament will be held at the Merion Golf Club East Course, in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. As always (weather permitting), it will end on the third Sunday in June (the 17th), to coincide with Father's Day.

Photo by: Drew Hallowell
Early forecasts call for nice weather, with expected temperatures hovering around 70 degrees the entire week.

Established in 1895, the inaugural winner of the tournament was Horace Rawlins. Back then, the prize fund was not nearly as lucrative for players as it is today. For his efforts, Rawlins took home a whopping $150 out of a $335 pot.

While that was certainly good money at the time, it pales in comparison to this year's staggering numbers; an $8 million purse, with roughly $1.5 million of that headed to the winner.

The U.S. Open is typically characterized by close scoring, at or around par. More often than not, it is staged at a wide variety of difficult courses that force players to drive the ball well, or settle for bogeys.

Even with the expectation of fairly mediocre scoring from the field, in 2011, Rory McIlroy broke the aggregate scoring record as well as the score under par mark, finishing at 268 (-16). One year later, things were back to normal when Webb Simpson won it all with a not-so-impressive 281 (+1).

In 1911, at the age of 19, the youngest winner in the history of the tournament, John McDermott, also became the first American champion. Since then, Americans have thoroughly dominated the field, winning 80 of the last 96 events. It goes without saying that expectations are high for another American victor, especially when you take into consideration the fact that the U.S. is home to nearly half (12) of the top 25 ranked players in the world today.

However, it would be daft of me to suggest it will be a cake-walk for an American to take home another title, particularly when players such as the aforementioned McIlroy of Northern Ireland and Adam Scott of Australia both sit in the top 5 of most bookmaker's lists.

With that in mind, Tiger Woods has been playing like a man possessed as of late, and is the odds-on favorite to win his fourth U.S. Open championship. Woods has won four tournaments already this year, and currently sits No. 1 in the world rankings.

The question that always arises before every major these days is will Tiger finally attain that elusive 15th major championship? To be honest, I couldn't possibly care less. The fact that I've never liked him may be part of my cynicism, but it stems much deeper than that. It seems like the only reason most people get into golf now is for the sole purpose of watching Woods, and it boggles my mind.

The sport is one of my personal favorites, both to play and watch. When majors are in progress, it's extremely hard to tear myself away from the television, even if just to grab another beer.

The game today is much bigger than Tiger Woods, and the field is stronger than ever. Whether you tune in just to see Tiger or are a true fan of the sport in general, the 2013 U.S. Open is sure to deliver high-caliber play from the best players on the planet. Simply put, it's must-see TV.

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