ARDMORE, Pa. -- Despite being the only one this year who carries that green jacket with him from place to place and regardless of the fact that he is the only man eligible to win the grand slam in 2013, Adam Scott knows his place this week.
"I'm probably the third wheel," he said Monday at Merion Golf Club, where he will play the first two rounds of the U.S. Open with Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. "That's why I'm No. 3 in the world. Otherwise I wouldn't be the third wheel, I guess."
Not a problem for the 2013 Masters winner. He is in a much better position than he was when he played in an all-star threesome at the 2008 Open with Woods and Phil Mickelson. Having gone throughout his entire career with a big void on his resume, Scott finally is entering a major championship as a major champion.
"I can't lie to you, I do feel a lot better coming here, even discussing that kind of thing," Scott said during his pretournament news conference. "I'm looking forward to seeing how I feel playing for the first time in a major after having won, to see if there's less pressure or if up I'm going to put more pressure on myself, I don't really know. For me it's a very exciting time in my career."
So most of the eyes at Merion will be on Woods, and to a lesser extent McIlroy. So what. Fact is, from now until Thursday, most of the eyes will be on the skies, which will be dark and ominous. The course has been deluged for much of the past week and Monday, it looked like a cross between one of those biblical movies about Noah's Ark and Bethpage Black during the 2009 U.S. Open.
United States Golf Association executive director Mike Davis acknowledged that the forecast for the opening round Thursday is not good, but he offered assurance that Merion "is maybe the best-draining golf course I have seen." He does not anticipate any major changes in the setup to compensate for the dampness, other than possibly making sure the hole locations are on highest possible ground.
Wet conditions, though, are just about the worst nightmare imaginable for the USGA and the course. It was a roll of the dice to hold the Open at the smallish, classic venue, given the risk that today's long-hitting golfers could demolish scoring records. Soft greens will make it easier for them to shoot directly at the wicker basket-topped flagsticks.
"The ball is just going to stop where it lands," Scott said. "So if you're accurate you'll be fine."
Two-time Open champion Ernie Els, who won the British Open last July when Scott folded down the stretch, cautioned: "It's still a U.S. Open. I don't care if you play the easiest course in the world. Put 'U.S. Open' in front of it and everybody gets nervous."
Put "major champion" in front of a golfer's name, and he feels pretty darned good. "I've got my first major," Scott said. "And my sights are definitely set on trying to win more."