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The U.S. Open has a history of being one of the toughest majors on the PGA Tour. From its tight fairway set-up, to its un-relenting rough, the U.S. Open generally rewards fairway accuracy more than any other event. As a result, scores have been traditionally high. Two of the last three U.S. Open winners have had a winning score of even par or higher, including last year when Webb Simpson won with a final score of +1. Palm Beach Gardens resident Rory Mcllroy holds the record for lowest winning score at a U.S. Open when he shot a four day total of 16-under to win at Congressional in 2011. The only other golfer ever to win a U.S. Open by going double digits under par is Tiger Woods. The Jupiter Island resident won at Pebble Beach in 2000 with a total score of -12.
There is one thing that golfers at this year’s U.S. Open will not be doing this year when they all descend onto Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, and that’s aiming for the flagstick. That’s because Merion Golf Club has a very unique tradition. Instead of flags on top of the sticks that are stationed on the green, Merion features wicker baskets as a way for players to identify where the cup is on the green.
The origin of the wicker baskets are a mystery still even to this day. Here is the explanation behind the wicker baskets from the Merion Golf Club website.
“The wicker baskets' origin is a mystery to this day. There was a great deal written in 1912, and for three years thereafter, locally and nationally about this new course in Philadelphia. However, there was no mention of the soon-to-be famous wicker baskets. It could be assumed they were not there. By the summer of 1915, William Flynn, Merion's Superintendent, received patent approval for his wicker basket design. Merion had baskets that fall and from then-to-today. It could be assumed, due to lack of written proof, that Flynn convinced Wilson to use the baskets, and Merion received its "basket notoriety" the next year during the 1916 U.S. Amateur.”
As part of the tradition of the wicker basket, the winner of this year’s Open will receive a basket along with the traditional trophy.
The U.S. Open will be held at Merion Golf Club June 13-16. For complete coverage of the U.S. Open visit www.majorchampionships.com/us-open.