Even after the recent downpours, which deposited two inches of rain on Merion’s East Course, the USGA claim the historic layout is going to play just how they like it this week – very fast, firm and narrow.
Indeed, the tiny fairways are lined with ungraduated rough that, almost without exception, leaves no escape shot, and the world’s best players are turning to driving irons and strong hybrids to keep themselves in position.
The majority, including Lee Westwood and Luke Donald, have opted for 2-irons, but Jason Day has gone one step further, perhaps in a bid to emulate Ben Hogan’s famous shot here 63 years ago, and put a 1-iron in the bag.
As we reported last month, the Australian started using the club, which is a TaylorMade RocketBladez 2-iron bent to 16.5˚ with a graphite shaft, at the Byron Nelson.
After relative success it seems Day will keep it in the bag at Merion.
When asked how many fellow pros have a 1-iron in the bag, Day said: “I wouldn’t think there would be too many.
“TaylorMade don’t even make a 1‑iron so we got a Rocketbladez 2‑iron and bent it to a 1‑iron. I was out there today and hit a couple of shots with it. It was downwind and there was a couple that went 300 easy with the bounce and roll. The ball flight is very strong.”
The 25-year-old added: “Normally I feel like I’m more accurate with the 1‑iron, it doesn’t spin too much, it comes off with a pretty boring flight, penetrates through the wind and when I’m hitting downwind it stays up in the air a lot.
“Initially we thought of taking driver out and putting in 2‑wood. We fiddled around with a wood and we couldn’t quite get the right configuration with the shaft and the flight.
It turns out the one-time PGA Tour winner has history with this club.
“I think I was 13 [when he last used one], and I had a Callaway set and I think it was X‑12s and 1‑iron all the way through to sand wedge and that was the last time, and that was, I want to say, 13 years ago.”