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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.


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