Usually known as the toughest test in golf, and this year's installment of the Open is going to be no exception. Now that being said Merion's East Course, located in Ardmore PA(roughly 10 minutes from Villanova) is a short, fast course. Mother Nature is seeking to eliminate the fast component of the course and the fear of many is that the course will be to easy and to this I say you are dead wrong. Let's realize who we are dealing with here, the USGA, these people will find any and every way to make this course nearly impossible and have been able to prove this year after year. Secondly, after seeing the early round play this morning, this course is still going to be fast. In edition to this the rough, especially on the really meat of the golf course, is a ft long. This tall rough can be found immediately where the greens end. This course can get in your head, especially guys who think they will be able to drive and spin their way into victory. If you attempt to spin your way to victory, these greens will destroy you. Get greedy in the driver and you will find your ball in the delightful and soggy tall grass. Ian Poulter has jumped out to an early lead and this can be attributed to his ability to hit low irons and wedges with minimal spin. This becomes an IQ course, especially when on the greens. My biggest key for the competitors, especially as the course becomes drier as we move into the weekend. I have a few guys that I think will lead the charge this weekend among the red wicker baskets.
Favorite: I am going conventional here, saying what everyone else is saying, this is an event where a guy who hasn't won it before will have an opportunity to take care of business. I love Ian Poulter as it is and I think this is a course for him, not a long bomber but a smart iron player, if Poulter can take care of business with the putter I like his chances.
Featured Group Favorite: I have a feeling the All-Star trio of Tiger, Rory and Adam will not meet expectations. Rory is still in his funk, I do not think Adam Scott will repeat as I feel he is putting a lot of pressure on himself. (Tiger and Steve Williams might be kinda awkward....) I think Tiger will be normal Tiger in the first few rounds and put himself in contention on sunday. We all know he's stopped using that driver, which makes him need to be more intelligent. The short course kind of plays to his advantage. Out of this group I think Tiger will have the best showing.
Dark Horse: Charlie Hoffman has 4 top tens in 14 appearances this year.... I think he will have a good week.
Why the hell not?: Give me Jim Furyk. He's a likable guy who has had success at the US Open before. He won it in 2003 and he's from Pennsylvania. He's a gutsy player, not a bomber, great with irons, and has a swing from the heavens. Jim Furyk is my "why not? "pick.
An unfamiliar course, with weather, and some weird flag sticks. This going to be entertaining.-Josh Neighbors