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Thought to be too small to host an Open anymore, Merion had been off the radar for so long that many of the top names in the field _ including Woods _ had never played it until recently. Organizers had to be creative with the placement of hospitality tents and parking lots on the club’s relatively small footprint, and ticket sales were capped at 25,000 a day instead of the usual 40,000 or so for recent championships.

But it still was expected to provide a quality test, emphasizing precision over power in the first major championship since Shinnecock Hills in 2004 on a course under 7,000 yards.

“I’ve been reading about how many scoring records are going to be broken,” Nick Watney said. “I’ve been around here once. And I think that’s insane. It’s funny to me. People look at the yardage and think it’s going to be easy. Even if it’s soft, the greens are sloped. The rough is thick. OK, we’ll have wedges into some of the greens, but that doesn’t mean you make birdie on all those holes. There’s enough tough holes to counteract that.”

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