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Merion is new not only to him, but just about everyone.

It last hosted a U.S. Open in 1981, when David Graham putted for birdie on every hole and closed with a 67. Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker played Merion, but they were all college kids at the 1989 U.S. Amateur. A few others competed in the 2005 U.S. Amateur or the 2009 Walker Cup.

But never at a U.S. Open.

“I don’t remember much about it from that long ago,” Stricker said. “But I remember at least that it was a great, old course with a lot of history to it, one that I enjoyed playing back in `89 and no different than today. It’s a great test.”

It figures to be a different test this week.

For all the history of Merion, this week seems like a recurrence of the troublesome weather that has followed the PGA Tour around this season. The course has received some 5 inches of rain since Friday, so much that it was closed for practice one day on the weekend, and play was stopped three times on Monday.

It was packed under mostly sunny skies Tuesday in what amounted to a crash course for so many players with the start of the U.S. Open only two days away.

“Played the golf course last Wednesday, which has proved kind of invaluable now,” Graeme McDowell said. “I flew in yesterday with the intention of playing 18 holes late last night, but that didn’t happen. So I’m kind of adjusting my plan here at the minute. I’m going to play nine holes this afternoon and nine holes tomorrow.”

Phil Mickelson spent two days at Merion last week, which also proved invaluable. He left town Monday for San Diego to practice in California’s dry weather, though he was planning on being home Wednesday, anyway, to watch his oldest daughter speak at her eighth-grade graduate ceremony.

Woods stopped at Merion on the way to the Memorial, and wondered how much he got out of that practice round. It rained practically the entire time, so the ball wasn’t flying very far in the air or when it hit the ground. Woods was trying to figure out how much the ball would run along the canted fairways in dry conditions.

Now, he might not find out.

“I thought it might be totally different,” Woods said. “As I explained at Memorial, I thought the ball would be running out and we would hit different clubs and different shapes. But it’s going to be the same as what we played” in his practice round two weeks ago.

Woods already has forgotten about his last start, an abysmal finish at the Memorial where he couldn’t make a putt and wound up 20 shots out the lead. He said he had a good week of practice at home in Florida until some tropical weather came through.

“I guess it was getting us ready for this one,” he said.

The preparation is all part of the plan. Woods talked about going to other major courses ahead of time to map out his strategy and get a feel for how to play the course.

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