I played Merion yesterday on a sparkling, clear day. Unfortunately the wind was brutal from the start, but it was a great experience. I got on a bogey train right from the start (their range is still not open; if I knew that I would have hit balls at my club before going over), and had a few 3-putts on the fastest, most diabolical greens I played all year. I didn't make my first par until 7, when I ran off four in a row through 10. I butchered the short 11th after hitting my best drive of the day, bad drive on 12 led to double bogey, parred 13 (Phil couldn't) and 14 (second shot was my best approach of the day). I hit one OB on 15 (toughest shot on the course, IMO; no discernable place to hit the drive) for triple, hit one in the quarry on 16 for another triple. Parred 17 (made me very happy, as that is where I marshalled for the Open), and doubled 18. The caddies were fabulous and really added to the experience. They really know the greens and the course overall as well as any caddies I've had anywhere.
To some who asked, I never would have broken 100 on the Open setup. I couldn't have played the length, and the rough wasn't as tough yesterday. I think it would have been impossible for the greens to have been any faster for the Open and I think I handled the greens pretty well, only three 3-putts. I didn't have the nerve to pull out the camera-phone until the back nine.
11 green from about 90 yards, where I hit my drive and then shanked it into the hazard right of the green.
13, where Phil pretty much lost the Open. Routine par for me.
My best shot of the day, into 14.
16, where I dumped one into the quarry and then 3-putted for triple bogey. Had to make a 5-footer for that.
16 looking back from the green.
17 green. Hole played 215 yards and I made about a 7-footer for par.
Iconic 18th hole, standing at the Hogan plaque.
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