Strength in depth at Merion

6/10/2013 5:48:00 PM
Thorbjorn Olesen   (Getty Images)
Thorbjorn Olesen (Getty Images)

The last time the US Open was played at Merion in 1981, a mere four European Tour Members were part of the field, as Seve Ballesteros, Sandy Lyle, Mark McNulty and Greg Norman flew the flag.

This week a total of 43 members have crossed the Atlantic for the second Major Championship of the season, illustrating how both the game and The European Tour has expanded and developed over the past four decades.

The arrival of Rory McIlroy into the world was still eight years away when David Graham became the first Australian to win the US Open at the Pennsylvania venue 32 years ago. But World Number Two McIlroy, who added his name to the famous trophy with a record breaking victory at Congressional two years ago, will lead the European Tour contingent over the famous course this week, playing alongside 14-time Major Champion Tiger Woods and Masters Champion Adam Scott for the first two rounds.

McIlroy is one of five European Tour members inside the top ten on the Official World Golf Ranking, with Justin Rose (five), Luke Donald (six), Graeme McDowell (eight) and Louis Oosthuizen (nine), also underlining the potency of The European Tour challenge.

Allied to that is a strength in depth, with eight players - Chris Doak, Jamie Donaldson, Estanislao Goya, Morten Ørum Madsen, Thorbjørn Olesen, John Parry, Eddie Pepperell and Jaco Van Zyl – making their debuts in the US Open.

For Doak, Parry, Pepperell and Van Zyl it will, in fact, be a first taste of any of golf’s four Majors, all four players having secured their place through qualifying at Walton Heath a fortnight ago.

The European Tour boasts a strong record in recent US Opens, following McDowell and McIlroy’s wins in 2010 and 2011 respectively. Can one of the 43-strong contingent be the next player to etch their name into US Open folklore?