U.S. Open Returns to Merion
June 10-16, 2013
United States Open Winners At Merion
(l. to r.) Olin Dutra 1934, Ben Hogan 1950, Lee Trevino 1971, David Graham 1981 & Justin Rose 2013
Looking Back At The Four U.S. Opens Held At Merion
by Jeff Silverman
Pete Dye, who knows a few things about golf courses and what can happen on them, once observed that “Merion isn’t great because history was made there; history was made
there because Merion is great.” Great golf courses bring out the best in great players, in terms of game, certainly, but also in the ways they test – and reveal – the core of a
Olin Dutra had to beat back terrible illness and a more terrible reputation for collapsing down the stretch to triumph in 1934. Less than a year and a half after the horrific
crash that almost killed him, Ben Hogan was forced to grittily walk on wobbly legs to prevail – over an exhausting four rounds and a play-off -- in 1950. Twenty-one years later,
Lee Trevino confronted and banished crushing self-doubt – and the immense shadow of Jack Nicklaus – to prove that his first Open victory was no fluke, while a decade after that,
an unheralded David Graham triumphed over what had been, in the championship’s approach, an exhausted game and a depleted body to survive the field and hoist the trophy.
With the U.S. Open returning to the East Course for the fifth time in June, the eyes of the golf world will again be on a small patch of the Main Line that was talked about as
a pushover -- too short, too compact, too dated -- by Dutra’s own contemporaries. Yet, if I learned one thing in the writing of “Merion: The Championship Story,” the club’s
forthcoming history, it is this: it is the very marvelous character of the course itself – deemed passé as far back as 1934 – that has let it stand up to every challenge, and,
in so doing, continue to stand the test of time.