PGA Tour

Simpson sees tense finish

Webb Simpson (AFP)
Webb Simpson (AFP)

Pennsylvania - Defending US Open champion Webb Simpson expects a battle to the 72nd hole when golf's greatest players face the next major championship, the 113th US Open at Merion in June.

The testy course offers 13 shorter holes where wedge play will be critical and a final five holes that will challenge even the nerviest of leaders down the stretch.

"I don't think they will ever be a point in this US Open where somebody will have it won because the last five holes are so hard that a guy will be hanging on as he comes down the last holes if he has a lead," Simpson said Monday.

"But I think that's what will make it more exciting. There will be birdie opportunities, but knowing, 'Hey, even if I'm three or 4-up I got to step on 14 tee and I got a long ways home.' So that will be exciting for the fans."

The same course where Bobby Jones completed a 1930 sweep of the US and British Open and US and British Amateur titles with a US Amateur triumph will play host to its fifth US Open, the first since Australian David Graham won in 1981.

Simpson, who won his title last year at Olympic Club in San Francisco, played Merion in the 2005 US Amateur.

"I know what the golf course will demand," Simpson said. "A lot of irons off the tee on the first 13 holes, the holes that are shorter. There will be more wedges into these greens than most US Opens and so hopefully my wedge game will be sharp.

"And then the last five are going to be some of maybe the hardest that we have ever had in the US Open. So you kind of have the best of both worlds."

Simpson dismissed the idea of a long or short hitter off the tee having the advantage, citing the importance of second shots.

"A guy with a good wedge game and a good mind will have the advantage because you'll have your birdie opportunities," he said. "What I remember about Merion is the second that you think I got an easy hole, an iron and a wedge, is the second that you probably will make a mistake.

"It's one of those golf courses that you give a lot of respect, a lot of credit, and even par still even though the course might be a little shorter, even par is going to be an incredible score out there."

Simpson plans to take a week off ahead of the event to prepare his mind and body for the test of patience and endurance the US Open offers.

"The biggest thing for me, what I learned at last year's tournament, (is) a major demands so much out of you, both physically and mentally, that a player being fresh and ready to go is just as important as his physical game," he said.

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