UPDATED: 06/11/13: The week ahead on the sports calendar, like it or not:
GOLF: 113th U.S. OPEN, at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., Thursday-Sunday, ESPN and Channel 4:
Often those who compete in this annual event of over-par frustration end up being labeled as basket cases. Perhaps it’s appropriate that this club outside of Philadelphia will play host to the annual Open, as Merion’s tradition is to put red wicker baskets on top of heavy metal flagsticks, so the players have no way to figure out which way the wind is blowing up there. Some have said they look like Q-tips on steroids atop the poles. Maybe it looks more like a Frisbee golf course. Yet, their origin is a mystery.
Red baskets mean a front-green pin. Orange is for the back. Beige means a patron’s picnic basket full of cheese steak sandwiches was swept up in a breeze and nested up there. The idea came from course designer Hugh Wilson, though exactly what inspired him remains unknown. Another great unknown is how this course will react to such a large gathering. Not since Aussie David Graham capped a three-shot win with a 67 in the final round in 1981 has a major come to this this course, which has held 18 USGA championships, the most of any golf course. Because of the 32-year wait, only 11 players who qualified for this year’s event have played competitive rounds on the course. That includes Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker (from the 1989 U.S. Amateur) and Rickie Fowler (from the 2009 Walker Cup). Tiger Woods, whose last major was the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, will have a much shorter course to attack this time. It’s just 6,996 yards on the card, the shortest Open course since Southern Hills (6,973 in 2001). Woods will go out with Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott as the featured group Thursday (10:14 p.m. PDT) and Friday (4:44 a.m.) – the three have a combined 17 major titles.
ESPN (6 a.m. to noon) and Channel 4 (noon to 2 p.m.) has the first two rounds Thursday and Friday. Channel 4 has the final two rounds (Saturday and Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.).
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