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.
For Garcia, the U.S. Open at Merion might live up to its reputation as the toughest test in golf — outside the ropes. He returns to America, on one of the biggest stages in golf, for the first time since a public feud with Woods took an ugly turn at a celebration dinner in England. Garcia jokingly was asked if he would invite Woods over for dinner during the U.S. Open. "We will serve fried chicken," Garcia replied with a grin.
Garcia approached Woods on the practice range Monday at Merion for a handshake, and little more.
"We didn't discuss anything," Woods said. "Just came up and said, 'Hi,' and that was it."
Asked if Garcia apologized, Woods said, "No. It's already done. We've already gone through it all. It's time for the U.S. Open, and we tee it up in two days."
That handshake might be their only meeting this week.
Garcia said the range on Monday was not the right time to apologize to Woods, but that the world's No. 1 player was gone when Garcia was done practicing, and the opening day of U.S. Open practice was delayed three times by rain.
They are on opposite sides of the draw — Garcia plays Thursday morning and Friday afternoon, Woods tees off Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. Unless they are near each other on the leaderboard on the weekend, they might not see each other again.
"He considers the matter closed. He's moved on," Garcia said. "And I'm happy that he feels that way, so hopefully we can do the same thing."