<
>

Tiger Woods gets look at Merion

DUBLIN, Ohio -- The weather didn't cooperate, and the conditions are likely to be quite different in two weeks. But Tiger Woods nonetheless got a look at this year's U.S. Open venue, a course he never had played until Tuesday.

Woods, the world's No. 1-ranked player, will be trying to win his 15th career major championship and his first in five years when the U.S. Open heads to Merion Golf Club outside of Philadelphia.

The historic course measures just 6,996 yards and was deemed short when the U.S. Open was last played there in 1981.

"From what everyone had said, I did not have an inkling that it was going to be as long as it was," Woods said Wednesday at Muirfield Village Golf Club, where he will defend his title at the Memorial Tournament starting Thursday. "It was raining sideways, and it was just an ugly day. We played it probably as long as it will ever be played.

"In June, obviously the weather won't be like that. It will be hotter. The ball will be flying. The clubs will be different, but the lines will be the same. It was nice to see and get an understanding of what I need to visualize and my prep next week and get ready for that. Have a nice understanding of where my sight lines are going to be and where I need to land the ball. Obviously it will be different clubs. Won't be quite as long as it was playing yesterday."

Merion is unique in that the short holes are very short by professional standards. But the long holes can be brutal, as several have been stretched. Said Jack Nicklaus, who lost in a playoff to Lee Trevino at Merion in 1971: "It's going to have some holes that they're going to abuse. But they're also going to have some holes on the golf course that are going to abuse them."

Merion has five par 4s that measure 370 yards or less, but it also has two par 4s more than 500 yards and a 628-yard par 5.

"They've already got U.S. Open rough out there," said Joe LaCava, Woods' caddie. "It's going to be a really good test."

Woods has not won at a venue he never had played prior since the 2009 Australian Masters at Kingston Heath. His last victory at a major venue he never had played previously was at the 2006 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.

Merion has a strong history: Bobby Jones completed the Grand Slam in 1930 by winning the U.S. Amateur there; Ben Hogan won the 1950 U.S. Open there; Trevino outdueled Nicklaus in an 18-hole playoff in 1971; and Australian David Graham hit all 18 greens in regulation during a final-round 67 there in 1981.

"If you look at the list of champions, they are very disciplined players," Woods said. "You play to certain spots. You play to certain spots on the greens. You leave yourself certain putts and you deal with it and you move on. ... You have to be able to put the ball in the correct spots and be disciplined."