40 over? Merion chews up three former major winners, spits them out at U.S. Open

Kevin Kaduk
Devil Ball Golf

ARDMORE, Pa. — Who's doubting Merion Golf Club now?

After months of speculation that today's pros would run wild over the legendary course's relatively short layout, the East Course has bitten back in a big way. Friday's second-round scores were up from the tough first-round postings and you have to imagine that the USGA is having a good laugh at all the naysayers they proved wrong.

Three men not having a laugh, however, are Jim Furyk, Graeme McDowell and Zach Johnson. The three men played in the same grouping over the first two rounds and nowhere did Merion's challenges appear more prevalent. Proving that bad play can be contagious, the three former major winners combined for a score of +40 and all are expected to head home for the weekend as they're currently outside the projected cut of +5.

"It's that hard, it's that difficult and it's that long," McDowell said of Merion after Friday's round. "It's not the way I wanted to play the last couple of days. But this place is very hard."

Johnson wasn't as polite after his disappointing showing.

“I would describe the whole golf course as manipulated,” Johnson told The Golf Channel. “It just enhances my disdain for the USGA and how it manipulates golf courses."

Johnson said the setup was not fair, which sounds like pure sour grapes.

“Not when luck is required,” Johnson said. “I think Merion is a great golf course, if you let Merion be, but that is not the agenda.”

Here's a breakdown of the carnage from that grouping:

Graeme McDowell — 2010 U.S Open champion
76-77 (+13) — 5 birdies, 4 bogeys, 7 double bogeys

Jim Furyk — 2003 U.S. Open champion
77/79 (+16) — 2 birdies, 9 bogeys, 3 double bogeys, 1 triple bogey

Zach Johnson — 2007 Masters champion
74/77 (+11) — 5 birdies, 12 bogeys, 2 double bogeys

Other notable trunk slammers include 2007 U.S. Open and 2009 Masters champion Angel Cabrera at +15, 2001 PGA champion David Toms at +12 and 2011 British Open champion Darren Clarke at +15.

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