Philadelphia fans on best behavior at Merion

Eight arms to golf with: Billy Horschel wore octopus pants for the final round of the U.S. Open on Sunday. The 26-year-old American finished in a four-way tie for fourth place at 285, 4 shots behind Justin Rose.
Eight arms to golf with: Billy Horschel wore octopus pants for the final round of the U.S. Open on Sunday. The 26-year-old American finished in a four-way tie for fourth place at 285, 4 shots behind Justin Rose. (      DAVID CANNON / Getty Images)
Posted: June 18, 2013

Things we learned from the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion:

Philadelphia sports fans aren't the ogres nearly everyone imagines them to be, at least not the fans who showed up at Merion this week. They were, for the most part, positive, polite, and well-behaved.

Even those who heckled, such as those targeting Sergio Garcia, didn't bring their "A" game.

"The things they yell, they're very common," Garcia said Saturday. "They're not very creative."

Garcia won't be back anytime soon.

Asked what he thought of Merion as a test, the Spaniard, whose golf balls spent more time on Golf House Road than the residents' servants, said, "You can set up any course difficult if you want to."

Were the fans unfair? "Ask them that."

On Garcia's 72d hole Sunday, a female fan shouted, "Did you make another 8?" The Spaniard walked over and nobly presented her with a glove.

The SAP on Ernie Els' hat stands for Simply Awful Prognosticator. Speaking to the media early in the week, as heavy rain pelted the media tent roof, the two-time U.S. Open champion predicted that a wet Merion didn't stand a chance.

Merion's distinctive logo - the red wicker-basket flagstick rising out of a clump of Scotch broom - might be the coolest of any golf club on earth. And given all the merchandise sold here this week, Philadelphians will be seeing it for years to come.

Fashion is fickle. The muck boots long favored by those whose job it is to shovel horse manure off stable floors became trendy footwear for Main Line women this week.

What's next? Hard hats and construction vests at Bryn Mawr Hospital benefits?

If Merion ever gets another Open, and golf technology continues unabated, the 18th hole at the next one will be 768 yards long, the par-3 holes 400-plus each, and the rough deep enough to hide Mike Weir.

So many golfers this week suggested future architects should study Merion that quarries might become a hot new golf-course feature.

This was a great week for old-time golfers. Olin Dutra, and especially Ben Hogan and Bobby Jones, got more ink than most of the 2013 Open's contestants, many of whom were barely breathing when they departed the course.

Curmudgeon collection

One of the Open's best shows occurred Saturday when about 25 media members who also covered the 1981 U.S. Open at Merion gathered Saturday for a reunion photograph on a badly straining platform.

The fun part was watching them climb up.

That adventure completed, a photographer asked that they "Say Cheese!"

"Speak up," at least half of them barked back, "we can't hear you!"


Giving 'Em Fitz:

5 things

overheard

at Merion

1One distinguished-looking gentleman to another: "The Main Line is different. You know that as well as anyone. There are some real idiots out here with money who have never worked a day in their lives and drink too much."

2Fan in line to get often-controversial commentator Johnny Miller's autograph early Sunday morning: "If he rips me, I'm going over the table for him."

3Wife to husband after he had a souvenir shipped home: "You just paid $12.50 to send a $22 visor six miles."

4One friend to another: "I'm getting a lemonade. You want anything?"

Reply: "A lemonade? What are you, a Communist? Get me a beer, Sally."

5Man on phone at pay-phone station: "Guess where I'm at? The U.S. Open!" (Pause) "It's golf."

5 things not overheard

at Merion

1"I'm going to leave early so I can get home and watch the Phillies."

2"I'll be in the gift shop. I want to get a South Philly T-shirt with a Merion logo."

3"That must have been a heck of a parking lot at Rose Tree if rain closes it down for a week."

4"Coming in, I'd have bet the house that Eddie Pepperell would have been on the Sunday leader board."

5"Yo, Anthony, ain't this the place where the steamfitters had their outing last summer?"


Giving 'Em Fitz: U.S. Open Limerick

The way that poor Tiger missed putts,

It had to be driving him nuts.

He even blew shorties.

And now he's near 40.

How long till he starts missing cuts?


Contact Frank Fitzpatrick at ffitzpatrick@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @philafitz. Read his blog, "Giving 'Em Fitz," at www.philly.com/fitz

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