Or . . .
"It takes more courage to win a U.S. Open than for any other tournament." From Tom Watson, who finally won his only one, after being in position several times, with a memorable chip-in for birdie on the next-to-last hole at Pebble Beach to beat Jack Nicklaus in 1982.
And . . .
"There are more bogeys in the last nine holes of a U.S. Open than any other tournament in God's creation." The words of Ray Floyd, who emerged from a 10-man scrum in 1986 to win at Shinnecock Hills on his 17th attempt at the Open.
And so it goes. Every major has its own personality. In terms of sheer severity, none of the others come close to our national championship.
It's that fundamental.
At least everyone knows as much when they tee it up. There's never any letup.
And perhaps that's how it should be. A survival test. So think grinders.
Anyone got an issue with that?
Curtis Strange is a two-time champion. In 1988 and '89 he became the first to repeat since Hogan almost four decades earlier. Strange didn't win any other majors, although he should have won the 1985 Masters and could have won the 1989 PGA. Now an analyst for ESPN, he's more than fine with the concept of our Open standing apart as the game's most arduous assignment.
"It's supposed to be the U.S. Open," he emphasized. "My dad [Tom, a club pro] played in six of them [before he died of cancer when Strange was 14]. "So I knew what the Open was supposed to be like. It should be tough. Other than possibly the British Open at times, when the weather really kicks up, this should be mentally and physically the toughest. You should feel totally spent at the end of Sunday afternoon."
Or even Monday, if there's an 18-hole playoff, which no other major has used for some time now. The USGA, of course, would never think of having it any other way.
Strange actually feels as if golf's governing body in this country has maybe become too user-friendly of late, in terms of adding things like graduated rough and chipping areas to the equation.
"I don't need kinder and gentler," he said. "That's just my opinion. I'm just not a fan of that. I want to see the heavy rough right off the fairway and around the green. Call me whatever, but that's what I grew up with. If even-par wins, there's nothing better."
In the last 8 years, even-par won twice, over-par three times and 1-under once. When Strange won in 1988 he shot a 6-under 278 at The Country Club (par 71), then added a 71 in the playoff to beat Nick Faldo by four. The next June he shot the same score at Oak Hill (par 70) to win by one.
In the last 8 years, the Masters (par 72) has had five winners finish between 10- and 16-under. The British Open has had five finish between 7 and 16, and the PGA Championship six between 8 and 18.
The numbers are the numbers.
"I think we have seen times where the course gets out of control," Strange said. "Nobody wants to watch that, either. When you ride that edge, you're going to cross the line sometimes where it becomes unfair. But if you set it up fair yet very hard and say, 'Go get 'em, boys,' that's the way I look at it."
Andy North also bagged a pair of Opens, in 1978 at Cherry Hills and 7 years later at Oakland Hills. He prevailed by one each time, shooting 1-over the first time on a par 71 and 1-under the next on a 70. Unlike Strange, who is in the World Golf Hall of Fame, the injury-plagued North only won one other PGA Tour event. Still, he owns one more major than Lanny Wadkins or Tom Kite, to name but two. So he's viewed as an everyman, the kind of figure who can also define this major. See Steve Jones, 1996. Or Orville Moody, 1969. Maybe even Lou Graham, 1975. You keep plugging away and sometimes great things can happen.
The closest North came to winning any other major was a fourth at the 1975 PGA, when he finished five behind somebody by the name of Nicklaus.
"We as U.S. Open champions love the fact that we think it's the toughest test we have to play," said North, who like Strange lends his expert color voice to that worldwide-leading cable network. "Our producers like to kid us that we sound like the two angry old men. That's OK by us. There's something about that week that just gets me all fired up. You want to feel like it's the same test you won. Every time you hit a poor shot you felt like it was a struggle to figure out a way to make a bogey. That's kind of where we're coming from.
"People have to understand that in today's world, these guys with the clubhead speeds they have and the length they hit it, if a guy hits driver every hole and never hits a fairway and the rough's 3 inches long, he'll still be able to hit every green by hitting a wedge. In the old days, some of those holes we might be hitting 5-iron to get out. Now it might be a 7 or an 8. And that's easier to hit compared to a 5. It should be if you hit it into the rough, you have to hit a good shot to get it 100 yards down the fairway. That's what we knew we had to deal with."
The Open hasn't been back to Merion since 1981, when David Graham shot 7-under 273 on a course that measured 6,544 yards. Only four others broke par, and two of those finished at 279. Now the historic East Course has been stretched to nearly 7,000 yards. Yet as North pointed out, the landscape has changed. So nobody knows how it will hold up. Yet if nothing else, it should make for some interesting commentary.
"Merion offers such a pure form of golf," said North, who 32 years ago tied for 43rd at Merion. "It's going to be different. But for the players, it's still all about trying to figure out a way to play the course the best way they can. Usually all the par 4s are from 420 to 480 or something. Not there. It's all in how the USGA sets it up. A lot depends on the conditions, like it always does. If the fairways are as narrow as they should be, and they have deep rough and it doesn't get softened by too much water, I think it's a heckuva test.
"I suspect that this will look more like a U.S. Open from 10 or 15 years ago. We should all wear 'throwback' clothes. It'll be great to see those wicker baskets. Guys will look to see where the wind's blowing and they won't have a clue. Good luck . . .
"The beauty about all the major championships is that they're so totally different. It's a lot like tennis. One's on clay, then you have hardcourt and grass. [The Masters] goes back to the same course. You're going to have eagles and double bogeys. The British is playing golf on the ground, with those wind conditions, which is really neat. The PGA is just kind of like a regular tournament, only it's a major. And the U.S. Open is a brute. You get the whole spectrum."
Strange, who tied for 17th in '81 at Merion, believes many will underestimate Merion because of the scorecard.
"It was tight and tricky," he said. "You don't have to be 7,500 yards to have a quality championship. They're going to really need to think their way around. Look at the people who've won there."
Bobby Jones. Hogan. Lee Trevino, over Nicklaus in that 1971 playoff.
Speaking of whom . . .
"The greens were just so small, and they got harder and harder as the week went on, which was good for me," the Merry Mex recalled. "And the rough in some places was so brutal, it was hard to find your ball. I played a practice round with Seve [Ballesteros, in 1981] and he was trying to chip out. And he was like, 'How do you do that?' He was looking at shots he'd never seen before.
"If you missed the fairway, you had problems. And they were missing them with 1-irons and 3-woods. The USGA will have it ready, you can count on that. The players are going to need some finesse. You can't just stand on the tee and hit it 340 and take your chances from there. You can, but you'll be able to go to a baseball game on Saturday and Sunday. That's what I'm talking about. If they get the right breaks with the weather, it'll be mean."
Because this is, after all, an Open.