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Merion Golf Club in Pennsylvania is the site for the 2013 U.S. Open and with the course being considered “short” you can bet that like any U.S. Open, the rough will thicker than molasses.

The course will play less than 7,000 yards this week and with rain in the forecast many think this will be one of the lowest-scoring U.S. Open’s in history. Rory McIlroy set the 72-hole record in a U.S. Open with a 268 in 2011 and although the short yardage and soft conditions have many thinking the winner will go low, history would suggest otherwise.

Merion has hosted the U.S. Open four times but not since 1981 has the tournament been played here. That year the course was over 400 yards shorter and only five players broke par. Trouble lurks everywhere on this course and the golfer who comes out on top Sunday will have navigated his way through it all.

Picks to win

Tiger (+400) – He’s the overwhelming favorite at +400 and with a short course it’s tough not to like his overall game this week. He’s got the length to fly over troublesome spots and the experience to make a strong weekend charge. But putting has been his biggest inconsistency in recent years and U.S. Open greens are always blistering fast. Rain will help slow them down and with his game progressively getting better the past 12 months you’ve got to include him in your thought process.

But going with the favorite isn’t my style, so here are two longshots to keep in mind:

Luke Donald (+4000) – 2013 may be the year that all those talented, “major-less” golfers get that first big title under their belt and Luke Donald would certainly make that list. Adam Scott got the monkey off his back at the Masters and now it could be Donald’s turn. He’s never finished in the top-10 at a U.S. Open which is a bit worrisome, but he’s been in the area for two weeks now and got to play the course twice last week before all the rain arrived this week.

Rickie Fowler (+7500) – Fowler had great success at this course (4-0) in the 2009 Walker Cup and will know what areas can be attacked and what areas must be avoided. He is another promising young golfer that has failed to show up on the big stage. His best finish at an Open did come last year (41st) and some familiarity in the venue could catapult him over the top this weekend.

Prop Bets to have on the card

What will be the winning score: Over 270.5 (-125) or Under 270.5 (-105)

You’ve got to side with the favorite here and take the over. It may be a short course helped by wet conditions, but this is still a U.S. Open and only McIlroy has even gone below the 272 final score in the history of the tournament. The best winning score at Merion in the four times it’s hosted the U.S. Open was 273 in 1981 and I think we see a similar number posted this week.

Take over 270.5

Will there be a first time Major winner: Yes (+120) or No (-160)
Will there be a first time US Open Winner: Yes (+220) or No (-285)

These two props go hand in hand and I think you’ve got to side with the “yes” option in both cases. For one, a first time major winner (+120) would obviously be a first time U.S. Open winner (+220) so both would be cashed if someone came through for his first big title.

Secondly, the past four U.S. Open champions all claimed this tournament as their first career major. With how this tournament typically sets up with the larger field and tough layout, plenty of guys have come from nowhere to claim this championship. Sure you have to avoid a guy like Tiger (mentioned above), but if someone like Phil Mickelson wins you would still cash the first time U.S. Open winner (+220).

Take ‘Yes’ on both props.

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