Devil Ball Golf

Ten things we hope happen at Merion

Shane Bacon
Devil Ball Golf

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Anybody up for these two on Sunday evening? — Getty Images

• A Tiger Woods-Sergio Garcia weekend pairing -- I mean, who wouldn't want this?

• The weather isn't overly horrible -- Listen, I wish at every golf tournament that weather isn't a factor at all (that is, every tournament in the United States ... let the wind blow for days at our dear Open Championship), but it's going to be a problem this week at Merion. I just hope that the rains and the winds don't cause entire days to get canceled or everything get pushed to a Monday finish. We know the weather is going to be nasty on Thursday, I just hope some of the guys get their rounds in, and the weather cooperates for the rest of the week.

• Bubba Watson gets into contention -- Considering how the everyday fan loves Bubba, it would be great to see the long-hitting lefty bypass the usual strategies at Merion and just pound driver around this golf course without any hesitation. The fans embraced Phil at Bethpage, and I feel they'd embrace Bubba if he was around on Sunday in Philadelphia. Also, how great would it be if he took his style of play and won the toughest test in golf? Pretty fantastic, I reckon.

• At some point a wicker basket comes into play -- We've already heard from the USGA that Sergio Garcia hit a wicker basket during a practice round, but I love the idea that Merion is keeping their signature baskets up on the flags and I really hope it becomes a factor at some point during the week. Fenway has that quirky fence, Wimbledon has bare spots during the final matches and the wicker baskets are going to make Merion unique and I hope a part of this golf tournament.

• Rory McIlroy has a good week -- This is simply a personal request so I don't spend the next two weeks being asked what the heck is wrong with this guy. Everyone listen up for just one second, and after you see what I'm about to write, I want you to re-read it a few times -- Rory McIlroy is not Tiger Woods. He is not going to be Tiger Woods. He is an extremely, extremely, extremely talented young man that is better than 99.999999 percent of every golfer that has ever stuck a tee in the ground, but he is never going to be the player that wins multiple majors in a row and finishes T-3 in the ones he doesn't win. His game is erratic for months at a time and that is something we must live with. A year ago he was missing the cut at the U.S. Open after finishing T-40 at the Masters and it was the same question, "What is WRONG with Rory?" He went on to find his game and win the Deutsche Bank Championship, following that up with a dominating performance at the PGA Championship and life was good again. Tiger's game, for the most part of his career, has been a flatline of success. Rory's is going to be up and down, depending on what's clicking, and that is totally okay. He already has two majors at the age of 24. If he hits a rough patch for a few months, it's simply because golf is a damn tough game to figure out and every pro not named Tiger goes through times like this.

• The winning scores are fair in relation to par -- The weather is going to make this U.S. Open different than what the USGA anticipated, but what I hope is that these guys don't go crazy because of the wet conditions and make this look like Congressional all over again. I like my U.S. Opens with winning scores anywhere between six and eight-under par, and I hope that is the case this week because I'd hate to see the USGA avoid Merion in the future just because they picked the wrong week to challenge Mother Nature.

• Phil Mickelson has a good opening round -- I'd hate to see Phil's chances at this elusive U.S. Open trophy go out the window because of his early week travel decision. No matter if he was going back to practice or for his daughter's graduation, I don't want a bad round to bring that decision to the forefront.

• Someone starts out 3-3-3-3 this week -- It's not likely to happen considering No. 4, the second par-5 in the first four holes at Merion, is measuring 628 yards, but wouldn't that be an awesome start to watch? That would mean a birdie-eagle-par-eagle start on a part of a golf course that you must take advantage of. As a caddie at Merion once said, "The first six holes are drama, the middle six are comedy, and the last six are tragedy."

• At some point over the weekend, Tiger Woods is in the conversation -- A reporter once told me, at one of my first majors to cover, that he was never rooting for the player, only the story, and I feel the same way anytime I see Tiger's name near a major championship leaderboard. Woods brings eyeballs to the game that I love, and love to cover, and he is the story until he wins another major. If he is leading heading into Sunday and wins, great. If he comes from behind? Even better. If he has a big lead and chokes it away? That works as well. They're all great opportunities for the golf to be that much better, and that much more interesting, and I root for any of the situations that involve Tiger and a battle against someone (my pick of opponent goes as follows - Phil, Sergio, Rory).

• That nobody runs away with it -- Nothing makes a U.S. Open worse than one guy running away with it over the weekend. We want it close, we want drama, and we want the 18th hole to mean something.

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