ARDMORE, PA - JUNE 11: Padraig Harrington of Ireland smiles during a practice round prior to the start of the 113th U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club on June 11, 2013 in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
The US Open has come and gone! Its funny how as players we wait for the majors to come around and then as soon as one is over we are looking ahead to the next one. I have to say that I thought the course set up in Merion was very good - it had a great mix of holes, long tough ones where par was a good score and then there were some short ones that gave the chance of a birdie. I felt that there was a score to be shot on the course if you hit your wedges well on the short holes, but I just wasn't able to convert enough of the chances I had. In the end, the course proved its worth as a US Open venue - nobody finished under par for the week but there were players under par in every round, exactly what the USGA look for. I really enjoyed the test and wish we could play it more often that once a year.
I finished on 11 over par for the week which was a tie for 21st. It wasn't a bad week but I am definitely leaving with a feeling of what could have been as every round I walked off the course feeling like I should have been a few shots better. My final round is a great example of this, I shot two over par but could easily have shot four or five under if I had holed a few putts. Looking back at my week my main problem was that I didn't make enough birdies - I only had a grand total of six birdies all week. Considering the amount of short holes there were on the course that was a very poor return. My par count was good at 53 but the problem is that when you are not making birdies it is hard to make up for dropped shots. There were players making as many birdies in a round as I made in the week. However my scrambling was very good - I chipped the ball fantastically and putted nicely from short distance, but I just struggled to convert the birdie putts.
I am leaving Merion feeling good about a many areas of my game. I hit a lot of good shots during the week and most importantly my short game is coming back to where it used to be, but the area that I was most disappointed with was my wedge play which I lost during the practice days and as a result lost a bit of confidence in them for the week. I was always fearing catching them heavy. Probably the most important part of your game at a major is your wedge play so to be struggling with this area was very disappointing.
However I had my chances over the weekend to make a move, as I gave myself plenty of chances. On Saturday I was one under for the day after eight holes but then dropped back with bogeys on the 9th and 11th and then I triple bogeyed the 14th after hitting my drive out of bounds. In the end I finished with a 75, when at one stage I was really looking like getting myself into contention. I had a similarly story in round two - I was cruising along at two under through ten holes having missed a few chances and then I three putted the 11th from fifteen feet and then double bogeyed the 15th after getting a flyer from the rough into a tree over the back of the green.
All in all there were a lot of good things during the week. I know it could have been a lot better had things gone for me but it wasn't to be. I have a few areas to work on before I play in the Travelers Championship on Thursday, mainly my wedge play.
When I finished my round I sat down and watched the final groups, which was fantastic viewing. In the end Justin was the deserved winner, he hit brilliant shots coming down the stretch under the most intense pressure. Congratulations to him, but I felt sorry for Phil as I know that this is a major he would dearly love to win.
I am off to Connecticut this week for the Travelers Championship, which I hope will be a slightly easier test than this one!
The second major of the year is here - once the Masters is over the US Open comes around pretty quickly. This year we are in Philadelphia playing Merion Golf Club, which is a different type of course than those that the USGA have chosen over recent years. It is under 7,000 yards, which by modern standards is short, however it doesn't play that short as the long holes play very long. I have played the course in corporate outings over the years but the course I played then is totally different to the one we are playing this week. The USGA always set the course up the way they want it and that invariably means that it is very different to what the members play.
I played nicely for most of last week but there were a few things I wanted to ask Pete Cowen when I saw him earlier this week. I got to the course late Monday morning and did some work with him; it wasn't anything new but we went over a few things that I wanted to clear up - I was happy with the work I did during my two weeks off and last week and so I wasn't looking for anything new. As ever with Pete it didn't take long and after a few shots he was able to tell me exactly what I wanted.
I didn't get out on the course on Monday as it rained quite heavily on and off during the day which caused them to close the course several times. There has been a lot of rain in this area over the last couple of weeks and as a result the course was flooded in parts after some of the showers on Monday. I spent a few hours at the course practising in between the showers.
On Tuesday I played the full eighteen. I was surprised how different some of the holes played from when I was here last. The thing I noticed most about the course is that it is the longest short course I have ever played. The long holes play extremely long, most players are hitting some type of wood into the long par fours and that is only if you hit the fairways. The rough as you expect from a US Open is quite brutal and unless you get a good lie you are just wedging it out. There are short holes that will give up birdies but because of how tough the long holes play you are under pressure to make birdies on the shorter ones. After all the rain the course is playing longer than normal but the thing going in our favour is that the greens are very receptive, which is unusual for a US Open.
On Wednesday I played thirteen holes and did some practice after my round. At the end of the day on Tuesday I was catching my wedges a little fat and then doing it again on Wednesday so I spent a bit of time with Pete working on this after my practice round. The fairways are soft and so the last thing you want is to be catching your wedges heavy. By the end of the day I was hitting them a lot better and I would say that it was the only thing that is concerning me about my game after my practice days.
Bar my wedge play I am happy with how my practice has gone. The concern I have for the week is that wedge play will be the key to performing well here and so to be a little worried about that area is not great. However I know that you can't ever really tell until the tournament starts. It is a very good course that has a great variety of holes, long and short, that offer up birdies and then take away shots from you. As ever with US Opens, it is important to hit the fairways as the rough is really tough, but I am looking forward to playing the course in the tournament to see how it really plays.
There is more rain forecasted for Thursday which will make the course even softer and conditions tougher. We can only hope that we get lucky and it misses us. I am paying early Thursday and late Friday with Sergio and Stewart Cink. I am feeling good and looking forward to getting started.