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US Open notes: Keeping Francis Ouimet’s memory preserved

ARDMORE, Pa. — His image is on one of this month’s golf magazines, and stories of what happened 100 years ago at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., continue to be told. Francis Ouimet isn’t at Merion Golf Club, site of this week’s 113th US Open, but his memory certainly isn’t far away.

To that extent, the executive director of the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund spent two days at Merion this week, meeting with the media and the US Golf Association, drumming up interest in Ouimet’s victory at the 1913 US Open, and of the importance of the Massachusetts-based scholarship fund that has handed out so much scholarship money (more than $25 million) to so many Bay State students since Ouimet and some of his friends created the fund in 1949.

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“Obviously we want to promote the Ouimet story, the Ouimet Fund story, and the US Amateur is coming up,” said Bob Donovan, referring to the 2013 US Amateur, which will be held in August at The Country Club, across the street from where Ouimet lived. “We’re really pushing on a lot of different fronts to capitalize on this special year.”

It was 100 years ago that Ouimet, then an unknown 20-year-old amateur, beat the game’s two top professionals of the time, Ted Ray and Harry Vardon, in an 18-hole playoff. Links magazine has recognized the anniversary with a piece on how golf is different 100 years later, and a special line of merchandise has been created by the fund to honor the achievement. Donovan was fielding inquiries about the Ouimet 100 shirt he was wearing.

“We’re trying to build our endowment program, our inner-city program, our bag tag program, all of our outreach, so this year has been a platform for us to jump off and do all of that,” Donovan said. “This is a chance to grow them. Strike while the iron is hot.”

Ouimet actually had a history at Merion. He lost in the 1924 US Amateur semifinals to eventual champion Bobby Jones. He also competed in the 1930 US Amateur, dropping his first-round match.

Thoughts of home

Not surprisingly, diehard Boston sports fan Keegan Bradley has a Black-and-Gold prediction when it comes to the Stanley Cup Final.

“I’ve got the Bruins, I think the Bruins are going to win,” Bradley said. “I love their chances, they’re playing so good. Tuukka [Rask] gave up two goals in the last series, that’s pretty ridiculous.”

Bradley was disappointed when he saw the pairings, because he’s scheduled to tee off on Thursday at 7:11 a.m., which could make staying up late watching Game 1 against the Blackhawks detrimental to his preparation.

The three-time PGA Tour winner from Vermont wasn’t as sold on the Patriots signing Tim Tebow, even though he tweeted a picture of himself standing on a tee during a practice round at Merion. Actually, not standing. Tebowing.

“I don’t know, the Tebow signing is surprising to me, but [Bill] Belichick has always liked him, and Josh McDaniels drafted him, so we’ll see,” Bradley said. “He’s not going to be playing quarterback. I’d be shocked if that was the case.

“Listen, I’m a loyal Boston fan, so if he’s on the team, I love him.”

Half and half

Because of the 156-player field, split tees will be used again for the first two rounds, as has become custom. But for the second consecutive year, players will not begin their rounds on Nos. 1 and 10, as one might assume. Because of the routing of Merion’s East Course, the 11th tee is much closer to the clubhouse than the 10th, so players will start their rounds the first two days on Nos. 1 and 11 . . . Bradley played his Wednesday practice round with, among others, Geoffrey Sisk of Marshfield, Mass., who is making his seventh US Open appearance. Sisk’s review of Merion? “It’s the longest 7,000-yard course I’ve ever seen. Really difficult.” . . . ESPN has added 30 minutes to its live coverage this week. Instead of coming on at 9 a.m., like Thursday, Friday’s telecast will begin at 8:30, which will allow the network to show more of the Tiger Woods-Rory McIlroy-Adam Scott group. They’re scheduled to start their second rounds on Friday at 7:44 a.m., but with bad weather expected on Thursday, there is a decent chance that delays are coming and tee times will change . . . One way to kill time while waiting for the group in front to clear out: chipping balls into a trash can. That’s what John Peterson was doing on the 16th tee, knocking three straight balls into a square receptacle some 20 feet away. That’s not all he can do; Peterson tied for fourth last year in his US Open debut.

Michael Whitmer can be reached at mwhitmer@globe.com.
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