U.S. Open preview

By Tom Quiner


Tiger Woods won the U.S Open in the rain in 2002 in Long Island, NY

This is amazing: Tiger Woods wins one out of every four tournaments he enters.

Mr. Woods has won more major tournaments than any golfer but Jack Nicklaus.

He has won more official PGA events than any golfer other than Sam Snead.

But here’s an interesting chink in Tiger’s armor: he has a tough time winning on the East coast. He has won only 8% of the tournaments he has entered in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, according to Matthew Futterman writing in the Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Woods fares much better on more modern courses which have been sculpted into sleek, ebullient masterpieces of landscape architecture. These courses are not as quirky as the East coast courses that were “designed” in a different era. I embellish the word designed only because these course designs adhered to the original terrain of the locale. They ARE quirky compared to the modern, bulldozed, sculpted courses.

The U.S. Open begins tomorrow at a stately Philadelphia course, Merion, the site of some legendary triumphs by legendary golfers, such as Ben Hogan and Lee Trevino.

Here’s the question: can Tiger tame Merion?

It’s a shorter course by far than most U.S. Opens anymore. That might bring some outstanding ball strikers such as Iowa’s Zach Johnson or Ireland’s Graeme McDowell into the mix. Even more, Merion has been soaked by rains. That will make the course play even shorter, so who knows if the long hitters will still have an advantage.

It should be pointed out, though, that Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open at Bethpage back in 2002 … in the rain … in New York.

This Father’s Day weekend, I plan on watching the drama unfold. As an Iowan, I can’t help but pull for Zach. But the analytical side makes it difficult not to favor Tiger Woods in light of the great season he is having.

East Coast or not, he’s the man to beat.