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Wednesday, June 18, 2008


"I told you so" is much too strong because Tiger did go out and win the US Open. But I sort of did...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Lessons Learned

Hats off to Rocco Mediate for his gutty comeback on the back nine today. I was pulling for him all the way, and though he couldn't get it done on the 90th hole, he should be applauded for his effort and for not backing down against Tiger. There are a few lessons that the other players on the PGA Tour should have learned from this event.
1) As good as Tiger is, he is beatable. When someone stands up to him and doesn't allow himself to be intimidated by Tiger, Woods shows that he is vulnerable. Golf is not a contact sport, and what the other player does has no direct impact on what one's opponent does, so intimidation should not play into the game as much as the media would like us to believe.
2) Any player who is good enough to be on Tour is good enough to beat anyone else on his best day. Tiger might win WAY more times than other players, but if another player is on a roll, his game can match that of the best player in the world.
3) The USGA's decision in recent years to add a preliminary cut of rough and even lower the highest sections of rough should be viewed as an opportunity to keep the ball on or near the fairway. The US Open is not as tough as it once was, so players need to suck it up and not allow themselves to be hoodwinked into thinking that this championship is too difficult to be won without a huge dose of good fortune.
4) Lucky shots comes to those who are the best. Tiger had some lucky shots and putts, but when one gets the breaks again and again, it's not all luck. The other players need to practice more and play better, and they'll start getting similar breaks.
5) Golf is about having fun, and having fun keeps a player loose. Playing loose translates into better shots and more holed putts. Rocco is the perfect example of this formula, and the other guys on Tour need to take notice and start playing like they did when they were 12 years old. They'll win more after realizing that hitting it hard and finding it is the name of the game. Smile and laugh your way to birdies. It's that simple.
Other lessons that should be learned, but won't be, are the following:
1) The media isn't going to chastise Tiger for being a cry baby club-slammer. We've seen his act time and again, and they're always going to cut him a break, even though he sets a terrible example.
2) The USGA got an exciting event, but the setup didn't feel like a real US Open. They will take the success of this Open and do more of the same in the future. It's good for TV, but it's not good for the integrity of the event. It's now the rough equivalent of the PGA Championship or something on the Florida Swing.
3) An easily birdie-able par 5 as the finishing hole is weak. Enough said.
4) Showing other players on TV instead of replaying highlights of Tiger's junior golf days is good for the future of the game, but the networks aren't going to change their ways until someone else challenges or surpasses him.
Speaking of the future of the game, keep your eye on these guys over the next three to five years: Rickie Fowler, Anthony Kim, Jason Day, Robert Karlsson, Billy Horschel, Kyle Stanley, Peter Uihlein, Daniel Willett, Rory McIlroy, Oliver Wilson, and Hunter Mahan. Just remember the names because you heard it here first.

More Thoughts on the TV Coverage for the US Open

What if the leaders played a little bit worse on Sunday, and some of the guys who started out the day a few shots back played a little bit better? We'd have had a US Open in which the eventual winner was either not shown on TV at all or shown a maximum of twice.

Here's a rough estimate of how many times some of the players who finished in the top ten appeared on your television sets on Sunday:

Miguel-Angel Jimenez (+3) - once
John Merrick (+3) - zero
Carl Pettersson (+3) - six, but that's because he started so early, and they needed to fill the time between 3pm and Tiger's tee time
Eric Axley (+4) - once
Brandt Snedeker (+4) - twice, but one of the times was to explain a weird penalty that he took; the other time was a replay of a birdie putt
Heath Slocum (+4) - zero, mostly because he finished his round before 3pm, but they never even showed highlights of his bogey-free, six-under par round

It would have been terribly ironic if any of the above players had won. I also continue to wonder how the executives at the PGA Tour and the television networks can spend half of their lives wringing their hands over what their product will be like after Tiger retires, yet they seem to have no interest in giving airtime to other players. Once Tiger decides to take his yacht out for a permanent cruise, which players will golf fans know well enough to become excited about?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Only Thing Left to Say Is . .

GO ROCCO!!!!!!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

My Thoughts on the US Open So Far

It's been a while since I chimed in, and I'll make my scattershot observations as concisely as I can.

1) Even if Lee Westwood doesn't pull it out on Sunday, at least I made one prediction on this blog that is worth a darn.
2) Tiger is the best, but at some point everything he looks at won't always drop for him. It might not be this tournament, but it will happen one of these days. His round today (Saturday) could have been disastrous, but it turned out very well. Remove the TV towers on #13 and the lucky chip (he admitted it was lucky) on #17, and he's even par or -1. Now the tenor of the final round is very different that it would have been had he completed the third round in third or fourth place.
3) The 18th hole at Torrey Pines is the biggest joke of a finishing hole in US Open history. It turns the ending of what should be the most rigorous test in golf into a made-for-TV, silly season ripoff. Instead of a short par 5 (playing 530 yards today), they should have made it a 510 yard par 4.
4) Torrey Pines is a minor joke as a US Open venue. I'm sitting here looking at my pegboard of the Golf Digest ranking of the top 100 public courses in the USA. Torrey stands at #89 -- one behind The Legend of Giants Ridge in Biwabik, MN. Familiar with Giants Ridge? Didn't think so. Torrey Pines is playing testy for these guys because the USGA stretched it out to 7,600+ yards, but it looks pretty vanilla to me. Blimp shots of the cliffs (which incidentally don't come into play) are pretty, but it doesn't make it a US Open-worthy layout. Put the same course a couple of miles inland, and it's a course you've never heard of (sort of like Giants Ridge, but much worse).
5) I've done a lot of complaining in the past (not on this blog) about how the networks focus on Tiger so much, and the other players become afterthoughts when he's playing. I know I'm not alone my frustration. But I've concluded that NBC, for all of their fawning over Tiger, do a better job than CBS. However, it's still overboard. I sussed out their formula this afternoon: from start to finish, the networks show EVERY shot of Tiger's live. Even when Rocco was leading, we didn't see all of his shots, and some of the shots we did see were "just a moment ago." Tiger has elevated his game above everyone else's, but catering to the casual fan is tiresome. It's gotten to the point where we only see some of the contenders tidying up on the 18th hole or putting "just a moment ago." It's pathetic.
6) Even given what I just said, Tiger hit a few shots that were incredible today, and he deserves to be where he is. Contrary to popular opinion, I'm not a Tiger Hater, but I wish some of the other guys would drop bombs and get breaks on wild tee shots once in a while.
7) Most of my predictions in the past have been junk, so I won't pick someone other than Tiger to win tomorrow, although I have a feeling that he won't close the deal (I'm tempting fate, but I don't care). What I will say is that of the guys within striking distance, the only players who currently have the guts to step up and make a run are the following: Westwood, Ogilvy, Trahan (maybe), Hunter Mahan, and Robert Allenby. I hesitate to include Westwood since he'll be playing alongside Tiger, but he's played the steadiest golf so far, and US Opens reward steady play. The other guys are streaky, and if any of them catch fire, a 67 or 68 is very doable.
8) Rocco Mediate acquitted himself very nicely today, even after a few screwups in the middle of the back nine. He'll be flying under the radar again tomorrow, and that should serve him well. Unfortunately, the course might be playing too long for him, which is a big, fat bummer.