In more ways than one. The leaderboard? Fantastic. Any criticism of Merion is completely unwarranted and the proof is the leaderboard the course has given us through 36 holes. Phil, Horschel, Donald, Tiger, Rory, Poulter, Mahan, Rose and Stricker all are in contention and as a fan that’s all you want in a major championship. The reason you hear all the talk of never having another open at Merion is all logistical and monetary. It has nothing to do with the length of the course.
Phil wasn’t his best on Friday but he got the round in and avoided having to get up early today then wait around for his late third round late tee time. That’s huge. He didn’t make a huge mistake, he plodded along and kept himself on the lead. You can’t underestimate how much that means when the man has often shot himself out of majors with untimely double bogies. Phil, Horschel, and Luke Donald go out in the final threesome today and with the Nike Orgy of Rory and Tiger (Lucky Pierre of Gonzo this time) not too far out in front of them. Hopefully we’ll be spoiled by the Saturday action.
As for Phil, how could we forget, it’s also Phil’s birthday on Sunday (and Father’s Day). This is setting up all to fitting for colossal disappointment for Bitch Tits.
Merion Is Quirky Enough
Merion is plenty quirky, therefore we don’t need oddities like the one I’m about to show you to occur during play this weekend. While addressing his shot from the fairway, Carl Petterson pulls the trigger and this happens:
A tee shot from the adjacent hole bounded into Carl’s fairway and struck his ball. Amazingly Azinger had no idea what the Rules of Golf would indicate the player do in this situation. It was pretty simple. Petterson replaces his ball while the other guy plays his as it lay. Duh. Shame on Zinger for not knowing. Carl had a good laugh about it. I wonder if the other player yelled four?
Billy Horschel has burst on the seen this year with a slew of cuts made, top tens, and finally a win in New Orleans about a month ago. His cockiness rubs some people the wrong way, but the raw emotion he plays with attracts as many or more fans than his cockiness turns away. He’s targeted this week as a breakthrough because of his history at Merion and it being his first professional major. Horschel played in the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot as an amateur and proved to himself in that event that he could make a living as a professional. He starred in the 2009 Walker Cup at Merion and has fond memories of the course from it. SI’s Golf Plus edition featured Billy last week in it’s Open Preview for all these reasons. They also featured this photo of him:
I was becoming a fan of BH’s until I saw this. Denim and a scarf in a golf locker room just screams ‘arrogant prick’ to me. I’m sure William was (wrongly) advised by some fashion guru to go with this look, but can you imagine Tiger, Rory, Phil, etc. taking this shot? Not a chance. It wasn’t to be in GQ. Billy has a Ralph Lauren contract so perhaps that had something to do with it and we can give him a pass. Still…..that’s fucking awful.
Billy’s third round will be interesting. The pressure of playing in the final group could be enough to make him crack. He’s a hot and cold player, and he also fights club throwing and temper tantrum demons. He could be the next Steve “The Volcano” Pate. Horschel hit all 18 greens on Friday. Think about that? That’s god damn amazing in a U.S. Open. He won’t back that up today.
Nike Orgy Continues
Tiger and Rory started their little love affair when Rors signed his Nike deal in the Middle East this past January. They’ve let Martin Kaymer and Adam Scott join them as the Lucky Pierre in their threesomes, today, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano joins them. I’m sure the $woosh factory and Phil Knight are thrilled that their prize spokesmen are in contention and playing together. Tiger and Rory will be the undercard as they’re a few of the +3 group that can still contend this weekend.
Gonzalo’s wife might steal the show if he plays well. I’ve shown her before, she’s good looking in that photo, but I’ve seen others that make her look like a tranny. No matter what Gonzo shoots today, he’ll still beat his playing competitors in the WAG department.
Merion Showed Its Teeth
The 2nd round was brutal and the scoring average jumped about a full stroke from the 1st round. The USGA is already hinting that they’ll set the 3rd round up with less teeth and provide more birdie opportunities with tee and hole locations. Does that favor anyone? In theory, it should favor Horschel as he leads the tour in birdies for 2013. I think nerves will prevent him from taking advantage. I think this type of set up opens the door for guys like Hunter Mahan and Steve Stricker. They’re just lingering behind the leaders and both can make birdies in bunches. Keep an eye on them today.
So who ya got? We’re half way home and this thing is probably down to about 15 guys that can win. There aren’t a lot of slouches among these contenders. Let’s see how smart you are. Give me your pick to hoist the trophy tomorrow night. Vote below and leave a comment to provide your pick.