MERION LIVED up to U.S. Open standards. To say that the East Course challenged the best in the world and held its own would be an understatement.
After rumblings that the course would be too easy for these pros, Merion bit into every single golfer in the field. Not one player finished under par, one of the signatures of a U.S. Open.
Players had under-par rounds, sure, but none could string any together and make them stick.
Phil Mickelson, who was in the lead, and under par for much of the tournament, could not hold on to the red yesterday. He finished at 2-over par after a 3-over round of 73 that left him in second place, once again.
But just how well did Merion hold up comparatively? With soft conditions, the USGA had to make adjustments with tee boxes and pin positions. Boy, did they work.
The average score for yesterday's final round was a brutal 74.1. Even par was good enough to take home the championship in the final round. Mickelson, who was on top for most of the tournament, could not manage any better than 4-over on the final day.
When Merion hosted the U.S. Open in 1971, the final round scoring average was 73.1. The eventual champion, Lee Trevino, managed to shoot a 1-under 69 to take home the title.
The 1981 Open played a little easier than 10 years previous. The final-round scores averaged out to 72.5. David Graham carded a 3-under 67 to take the trophy the last time the national championship was in Philadelphia.
According to the stat sheet, Merion in 2013 played tougher than previous U.S. Opens, against all odds. Aside from the stone cold stats, all the professionals were in agreement, too. Merion was no joke.
"It's an exhausting course to play and very difficult," Nicolas Colsaerts said after he finished 7-over par, tied for 10th place.
"The golf course, Day 1 I got here, I knew it was going to be a tough golf course," Brandt Snedeker said. "I knew it was short, but it played to a great test. The long holes played really tough and the shorter holes, if you played them the right way, you could make some birdies. But if you didn't, they were tough, too. It was a great test."
"Nobody can break par," Matt Kuchar said.
Nobody did break par. Justin Rose came the closest, finishing at 1-over, winning his first U.S. Open. But call that a win for Merion.
DN Memebers Only: Tiger Woods is failed by his putter.