The name Merion was special to Bill Rogers and George Burns long before they battled it out in the 1981 U.S. Open and tied for second behind David Graham.
Now, 32 years later, they hope nothing will change when the pros tee it up for the 2013 Open next week.
“The first Open I played in was the ’71 Open at Merion,” said Rogers, then a sophomore at Houston. “I look back on that quite fondly because it kind of validated the next step for me was playing professionally.
“I have not been back since ’81. I hope they haven’t had to change it so much it lost its personality. That first teeing area was so close to the club, I remember teeing it up next to someone eating a sandwich.”
Burns had played Merion prior to ’81 before getting a first-hand view of Graham’s final round 67. He immediately loved the place and hopes that affection will be rekindled among today’s players.
“It’s one of the most traditional golf courses, with so much history,” said Burns. “I think the history there kind of puts you in a bit of a cloud. I think it will be a good tournament. I hope it plays hard and fast for them. I don’t want them to shoot the place up.”
Rogers, the 1981 Player of the Year, is confident the USGA won’t let that happen.
“I know the USGA will want it fast and running,” said the 61-year-old Rogers. “I remember the greens as treacherous. Just a real challenge. But the golf course, barring any weather events, can hold its own. They’ll figure out how to make par a great score, for sure.”