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March 13, 2013

Coming Attraction: The 2013 U.S. Open To Be Played At Merion Golf Club, June 10-16 — The First Major Championship To Be Played In Philadelphia In More Than 30 Years

Get up close and personal with the world's best golfers — including a resurgent Tiger Woods — at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club this June, the first time in more than 30 years that Philadelphia will host one of golf's four majors. (Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)

Golf fans in the Philadelphia area should be getting pretty excited.

This June, for the first time in more than 30 years, Philadelphia will host one of golf’s four majors. The 2013 U.S. Open will be played at the Merion Golf Club in Ardmore from June 10-16.

Philadelphia last hosted a major championship in 1981, when the U.S. Open was held at Merion. And while it’s taken 32 years for the tournament to return, the timing appears to be pretty good.

Here’s why.

The History

Merion Golf Club is a historic venue, having hosted 18 USGA championship tournaments since opening in 1896, more than any other course. Merion is where Bobby Jones completed the only grand slam in the history of golf in 1930, when he won the U.S. Amateur Championship after winning the British Open, the British Amateur and the U.S. Open earlier in the same year. No one has ever won all four majors in the same year since. (Although, Tiger Woods came close when he held all four major championships at the same time, only over two calendar years.) Other feats at Merion include Ben Hogan doing this. And Jack Nicklaus has said of Merion, “Acre for acre, it may be the best test of golf in the world.”

2013 marks the sixth U.S. Open Championship to be held at Merion and the first since 1981.

The Field

Another thing we have going for us this year is some of the world’s best golfers are heating up just in time for the Open’s return to Merion.

A resurgent Tiger Woods appears to have regained his old form. He’s played in four tournaments in 2013 and is batting .500, having won two of them — including the World Golf Challenge this past weekend in Miami. He’s now the #2 player in the world, behind only Rory McIlroy. That said, Tiger is still sitting on 14 major championships in his career, having not won a major since 2008. In steadfast pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major victories, Tiger is eager to break his four-year drought in the majors. He’s currently the favorite to win the Masters next month, but regardless of the outcome at Augusta, Tiger looks like he’s primed for a big year in 2013 and will surely be gunning for a win at Merion in June. (Tiger would love to win an open on the same fabled course where Ben Hogan and Bobby Jones have two of the most famous victories in golf.)

So would Phil. Phil Mickelson, Tiger’s longtime rival, has also had a solid start to his 2013 campaign, winning one tournament and finishing third this weekend in Miami behind Tiger. Currently the 10th ranked player in the world, Phil has won four majors in his hall-of-fame career, but never a U.S. Open. He’s finished runner-up at the U.S. Open a record five times. Phil really, really wants to win a U.S. Open — could this be his year? We think he can definitely make a solid run at it.

And then there’s Rory McIroy, the #1-ranked, 23-year old phenom who shattered records on his way to his first U.S. Open victory in 2011. Rory is off to a bit of a slow start this year, but it’s a good bet that he straightens things out soon.

So even though it’s still a few months out, right now things are looking good for Merion to play host to a pretty great (and potentially epic *knocks on wood*) U.S. Open golf tournament.

And it will be right here in our backyard.

Tickets

One of the reasons Merion hasn’t hosted a Open Championship in 32 years is because the course and its grounds are smaller than many Open courses — in fact, Merion was recently lengthened to 6,846 yards from 6500 yards in order to host this year’s tournament. And the smaller grounds mean smaller gallery sizes and less tickets available each day of the championship.

The good news, however, is that there are still tickets available. The bad news is they get pretty expensive pretty quickly. Open tickets at Merion are hot commodity, with a lot of the tickets having sold out almost a year in advance. A limited number of individual tickets remain available for purchase through the USGA, both for the practice rounds Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as well as for the Championship rounds Thursday through Sunday. Stubhub is another option.

But our main point is this: consider it a pretty solid investment. It’s basically a once in a lifetime opportunity to see Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy all tee it up in a U.S. Open Championship at one of the most revered golf courses in the world — Merion, a place that hasn’t seen a major in three decades and that probably won’t see another one for at least one more decade — which just happens to be in Philadelphia’s backyard.

We definitely want to be there to see it all play out.

2013 U.S. Open Golf Championship
When: June 10-16, 2013; Practice Rounds June 10-12; Championship Rounds June 13-16
Where: Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, PA
Cost: Ticket prices vary
More info: www.usga.org

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