ARDMORE, Pa. — Scotland’s Paul Lawrie came over to say goodbye and wish his fellow golfers good luck Wednesday. A few seconds later, countryman Martin Laird did the same, departing behind the 18th green at Merion Golf Club’s East Course, heading to the short-game area.
That left Puyallup’s Ryan Moore alone, dropping a few golf balls in the long, gnarly grass behind the green, chipping them to expected hole locations for the 113th U.S. Open, which starts Thursday.
Any extra preparation will surely be beneficial, especially because heavy rains washed out most practice rounds Monday and left much of the field scrambling to learn as much as possible about Merion East.
Moore played the front nine holes Tuesday, then was out early Wednesday to experience the remainder of the layout.
“Some people really want a lot of time on the course,” Moore said. “I only have to see every hole once, and I am fine.”
Moore said he likes Merion East. He called the routing a bit “unusual,” especially with all the switchback fairways on the front nine, and a couple of shared tee boxes.
“But I understand why they wanted to have it back here,” Moore said. “It is a heck of a golf course.”
And it requires a different challenge long before the round begins.
Moore tees off for the first round at 8:02 a.m. (EDT) Thursday. Normally he would arrive at the course around 6:30 to eat breakfast, hit golf balls on the driving range, and chip and putt before playing.
Not here. Golfers will need to take a shuttle to the driving range at Merion West – a few miles away. Then they are dropped off, and have to walk 10 minutes to get to the clubhouse, adjacent to a short-game area where they can chip and putt.
“I will try and get here a little before 6 (a.m.). I will give myself at least that much extra time just making sure I don’t get traffic coming in, making sure I can get into the shuttle 45 minutes before my tee time to get over here and putt on this green,” Moore said.
“It is definitely different. … But we have to do it so much out here, this doesn’t faze me anymore. It is what it is. I’ll have to wake up at 4:45.”
As a cadre of 20 members from Pierce County (including West Pierce fire department), Sound Transit, the cities of University Place and Lakewood, and the Sumner-Puyallup Chamber of Commerce sat in a hospitality suite near the 15th hole Wednesday, going over the weekend itinerary, there was one noticeable addition to this year’s crew – a cameraman.
Two behind-the-scenes videos at the U.S. Open are being made for future presentation. One will be a scaled-down version (three minutes) that will be shown at corporate and community meetings, and the other is a more extensive 30-minute documentary that will be aired on television.
“The mission is to show what can’t be seen on television,” said Hunter George, communication director for Pierce County.
Gig Harbor’s Kyle Stanley didn’t know when he played in the 2005 U.S. Amateur at Merion East that he had an in-house tour guide.
His father, Matt, attended Haverford College, a private NCAA Division III school right across the street from Merion East.
Matt Stanley was a four-year varsity member on the men’s soccer and golf teams. The golf team’s home course was Merion West.
His best round at famed Merion East?
“A 77,” he said.
Paired together for perhaps the final time as amateurs, the University of Washington’s Chris Williams and Cheng-Tsung Pan played a morning practice round Wednesday. Williams, the 2013 Hogan Award winner for college golf’s most accomplished player, is expected to turn professional at next week’s Travelers Championship in Connecticut. … A couple of notable winners from Northwest tournaments are in the field this week – 2011 U.S. Junior Amateur champion Jordan Spieth and 2012 Boeing Classic winner Jay Don Blake.firstname.lastname@example.org blogs.thenewstribune.com/golf @ManyHatsMilles