Webb Simpson defends his 2012 U.S. Open title.
The Masters signals the beginning of the golf season and has the tradition of Bobby Jones. The Open Championship is played on mystic golf courses like Carnoustie and St. Andrews. The PGA Championship is played near the end of the golf season and has the best professionals in the field.
The U.S. Open brings together the best golfers of all ages at both amateur and professional levels. It will be played this week at the Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.
Davis Love, Mike Weir, Ben Curtis and Vijay Singh have all won majors in their careers. But it doesn't matter at the U.S. Open. There are no free rides. They have to qualify to play just like everyone else.
Two-time champion Lee Janzen was even disqualified in his sectional qualifier for wearing steel-spiked shoes.
There are precious few exemptions into the U.S. Open field, and everyone that tees it on Thursday will need their best effort to be on the leaderboard on Sunday.
Here are a few reasons why it is the best major championship
The USGA has a reputation as being a slightly stodgy and a unyielding group. They have had their own way of doing things since 1895 and never stray from the tried and true formula that annually identifies the best golfer in the land.
From their offices in Far Hills, New Jersey, they test equipment for conformity, make decisions concerning rules changes and manage their various sanctioned tournaments. They can set up a classic old golf course in a manner that makes it nearly impossible for the average golfer to even attempt to play.
USGA officials can always be recognized by the blue coat, khaki pants, ball cap and golf shoes.
Michael Weaver from the Cal golf team is one of the amateurs that qualified for this year's U.S. Open.
Seven amateur golfers have qualified for the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club.
2013 Jack Nicklaus Award winner Michael Kim, 2013 NCAA Individual Champion Max Homa and 2012 U.S. Amateur Champion Michael Weaver lead a strong field of amateurs in the U.S. Open field. They are all members of the California Golden Bears golf team that made it to the semifinals of the NCAA tournament.
Amateur Francis Ouimet was the first American to win a U.S. Open in 1913, and he remained an amateur his whole career.
Bobby Jones set the standard for amateurs and won three tournaments. Johnny Goodman was the last amateur to win a U.S. Open in 1933.
With the accelerated training and coaching that young amateur golfers receive today, could an amateur win this year's contest or a future edition?
Mike Davis of the USGA has the final say on course set up
The USGA always sets the golf course conditions to offer a stern test and identify the golfer that can handle every situation and difficulty encountered throughout their round.
Mike Davis has been responsible for the course set up over the past few U.S. Opens, and for the most part, the players have applauded his efforts.
There have been a few complaints in the past that course conditions were too difficult and good shots were penalized.
Golf can be a cruel game even on a tame course. Under U.S. Open conditions, it can become nearly impossible. Firm, fast greens can lead to bogeys or worse, and wedges must be hit from poor lies in the rough.
The USGA wants to make par relevant and not allow too many red numbers at a U.S. Open.
They normally get their wish.
Graeme McDowell gave his father a U.S. Open Trophy in 2010.
The U.S. Open is always scheduled to end on Father's Day every year. The trophy ceremony has yielded some great photo opportunities over the years.
Rory McIlroy had a great hug with his father after his win in 2011 at Congressional. Graeme McDowell and his father had big smiles as he accepted the 2010 U.S. Open Trophy at Pebble Beach.
In most cases, our fathers got us interested in the game of golf. What better way to honor dear old dad than watching the U.S. Open on June 16?
Who will get to share the trophy with their father at Merion Golf Club this year?
Bethpage Black has hosted two U.S. Opens.
The USGA chooses only the best golf courses in the United States.
From public golf courses like Bethpage Black, Torrey Pines and Pebble Beach to historic courses like Congressional, Winged Foot, Oakmont and Olympic, we get to watch the best golfers on the best courses.
Merion Golf Club, the site of the 2013 U.S. Open, has a rich and storied history. Bobby Jones completed the "Grand Slam" in the 1930 U.S. Amateur at Merion.
Ben Hogan hit his famous one-iron shot from the middle of the 18th fairway. Lee Trevino beat Jack Nicklaus in a Monday playoff in 1971, and David Graham played his nearly perfect round to win the 1981 U.S. Open there.
Classic American golf courses and historic settings make for the best golf has to offer.
All of the greats have won the U.S. Open and some more than once.
Jack Nicklaus won four titles in his career, the last coming in 1980 at Baltusrol.
Ben Hogan won four times in a six-year stretch, 1948-1953.
Bobby Jones had four victories as an amateur.
Hale Irwin won the U.S. Open three times in the span of his career.
Lee Trevino, Curtis Strange, Andy North, Payne Stewart, Billy Casper and Ernie Els won twice.
Walter Hagen, Byron Nelson, Gene Sarazen, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, Johnny Miller and Tom Watson all won at least one U.S. Open trophy.
Tiger Woods has won three U.S. Opens, the last coming in 2008 at Torrey Pines. It was the last major championship that he has won.
Can he get back to winning majors and chasing Jack Nicklaus at Merion?
Even Michelle Wie tried to qualify for the 2006 U.S. Open.
At the qualifying for the 2013 U.S. Open, there were 9,860 hopeful golfers entered. The USGA will allow anyone with a handicap index of 1.4 or better to qualify.
It is the dream of every scratch golfer to qualify for the U.S. Open and play alongside the great golfers of the time.
Seven amateurs have qualified for the 2013 tournament. In total, 57 golfers earned spots at Merion at 11 different sectional qualifiers around the United States last Monday June 3.
The USGA also held qualifiers in Japan and England for international players.
Fifty-four-year-old Jay Don Blake will be the oldest competitor in the field at Merion.
Jay Don Blake earned a spot at Merion this year through sectional qualifying. He has played in 10 U.S. Opens dating back to 1982. His best finish was a tie for sixth in the 1992 edition at Pebble Beach won by Tom Kite.
Blake is 54 years old and a full-time player on the Champions Tour. His lone career win on the PGA Tour came at the 1991 Shearson Lehman Brothers Open, and he has three wins on the Champions Tour.
With Merion Golf Club being somewhat shorter than a normal PGA Tour golf course, older golfers, who may not be as long off the tee as the younger guys, still may have a chance to win if they can get their putters to work.
The youngest golfers in the field this week at Merion are all members of collegiate golf teams.
Although there is no Guan Tian-Lang or Andy Zahn this year, it still offers a diverse field of amateurs and touring professionals that dream of winning a U.S. Open Trophy.
Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods will be grouped together through the first two rounds at Merion.
The USGA likes to group the top-ranked players together for the first two rounds of the U.S. Open. It might not be that much fun for the players, but it offers great golf viewing for golf fans.
No. 1 Tiger Woods will be grouped with No. 2 Rory McIlroy and No. 3 Adam Scott for the first two rounds at Merion.
Be sure to set those DVRs on Thursday and Friday so you can catch all of the action from the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club while you are at work.
Rory McIlroy with the 2011 U.S. Open Trophy
The U.S. Open is the national championship of the United States, and the U.S. is the home of the PGA Tour, which boasts the best collection of golfers in the world. The vast qualification process identifies golfers that are currently playing at their peak ability.
The best players in the world get to play at the best golf courses in the United States.
The U.S. Open is the best major championship.