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A brief look at the 113th US Open golf championship

A brief look at the U.S. Open golf championship, which starts Thursday:

Site: Merion Golf Club

The course: Merion was designed by Hugh Wilson and opened in May 1914. Its Scottish-styled bunkers are known as the "white faces of Merion." Unique to Merion are the wicker baskets painted orange and red attached to the pins, instead of the traditional flag. Merion has hosted 18 USGA championships, the most of any golf course. This is its first U.S. Open since 1981.

Length: 6,996 yards

Par: 36-34_70

Field: 156 players (10 amateurs)

Defending champion: Webb Simpson.

U.S. Open champions at Merion: Olin Dutra (1934), Ben Hogan (1950), Lee Trevino (1971), David Graham (1981).

Noteworthy: Merion is the shortest course for a major championship since the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills.

Quoteworthy: "I don't think it's going to be a low-scoring U.S. Open. I hope it's not going to be a low-scoring U.S. Open. We'll see. I think the golf course has enough defense." — Graeme McDowell.

Key statistic: The winning score has been lower each of the previous four times the U.S. Open was at Merion.

Tiger tales: This is the first time since 2000 that Tiger Woods has won four times on the PGA Tour before the U.S. Open. He won the U.S. Open that year by 15 shots.

Key groups: 1:14 p.m., Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott; 7:11 a.m., Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Keegan Bradley; 12:52 p.m., Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer.

Television (all times EDT): Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., ESPN; 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., NBC; 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., ESPN. Saturday and Sunday, noon to 7:30 p.m., NBC. Monday, if necessary, noon-2 p.m. ESPN; 2 p.m.-playoff conclusion, NBC