U.S. Open Preview

June 13, 2012

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This week the United States Open Golf Championship will be held at the Olympic Club at San Francisco.  There is a lot of anticipation for the event this year as well as a number of stories.

The USGA has released the pairings for the Thursday and Friday rounds, and there are some very attractive made for a Hollywood movie type of three-somes.

First and foremost will be the matinee headliner of Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Masters Champion, Bubba Watson.  Be glad you are at home watching these three because if you were at the tournament I can assure you the gallery size for this triumvirate would parallel the crowd at a Rose Bowl game.

Tiger is the early 5 ½ to 1 favorite with the Vegas odds makers.  This is likely due to his win two weeks ago at Jack’s place – The Memorial. 

Of course we have seen this before this year. Tiger wins at Bay Hill and the world announces “He is Back” then he falters badly and appears not to be able to handle the pressure of a major while playing in the Masters.  Then he looks like the Tiger of old on the weekend at the Memorial. The question remains, will he contend this week.

Buggy anyone?

In Scotland, they are called buggies, but here in the good ol’ USA we call them Golf carts, or even sometimes affectionately – chariots.

Next week during the U.S. Open a name of court cases of a bygone era – Casey Martin again will be riding a cart for the his rounds after, qualifying for tournament.  Martin, who is the Oregon Golf Coach, retired from competitive professional golf six years ago.      

Casey Martin is most known amongst the golf aficionados as the man  who successfully sued the U.S. PGA Tour in 2001 for the right to ride a cart.  Martin suffers from a  because of a degenerative circulatory disorder and has had difficulty walking due to this condition since his teenage years.

I am quite confident NBC will give this significant play again, although it has been more than a decade since this was major news on the golfing front.

Martin did take a cart during local and sectional qualifying and will be allowed the use of a cart during the tournament this week.  His playing companions will not be able to hitch a ride with him between holes. 

Who will win?

Normally a fluke does not with the U.S. Open. It is a tournament with the most severe conditions in terms of deep and thick rough, dry fairways, hard and fast greens, and demonic pin placements.

The person who wins typically is hitting a lot of fairways, is able to control their ball flight, and is playing outstanding around the greens.

This one is on the West Coast, and not many have won more on the left coast than the left hander, I am taking Phil Mickelson.  Plus with the nickname in  GCSSA circles, Flopsy McChokenstien due to a few of his near misses in majors, I am hoping Phil can get the 5 second place monkey off of his back and magically find it this week by the bay. 

Until Next Time, Stay Classy Thermopolis, Wyoming.

Mother Nature wins US Open, Glover gets trophy

June 23, 2009

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Much like the rain delays this weekend at the 109th United States Open Championship at Bethpage Black course, your truly is a little late in getting in this week’s sports story in.

Yesterday provided some great drama and a great and memorable finish. It became somewhat of a Darwinesque survival of the fittest down the stretch. The last group with Ricky Barnes and Lucas Glover started Monday play on the second hole with a comfortable cushion of 5 shots between them and the next closest competitor.

Only in the US Open, no lead is comfortable, especially when you have not contended in a Major before.

Barnes was the first to falter, giving away a number of strokes early in the round. He started to show signs of this late in the day on Sunday as he missed a very short putt on #18 and then promptly began the fourth round by barely keeping it on the golf course. Barnes has been in a position like this before, albeit while still an amateur. He is a past United States Amateur Champion. That is a Major in my book, and it sure was to Bobby Jones.

Glover leads the PGA this year in total driving statistics which combines length off the tee with accuracy. That is the kind of statistical support you need to find yourself at the top of a US Open Leaderboard. As Barnes faltered, Glover hung in there just a bit better…mainly due the number of fairways he was hitting.

A number of other players made a charge, Mike Weir, who was a magician with the rescue clubs and fairway woods all week. Ross Fischer…Who??? Most had never heard of him, but they will now. And if you watch golf channel coverage of the European Tour you would know a lot more about Ross and his golf game.

David Duval, who had gone the way of Ian Baker Finch, win the Open Championship only to never be heard from again. Duval showed the world that he might be closer than we think to being among the games best again. He had a few horrible breaks early in the round and could have easily faltered, but instead righted the ship and finished tied for second. No one saw that coming. Except maybe Double D himself.

Tiger made a fourth quarter drive, but ran out of holes and out of time. NBC is always pushing for Tiger, and frankly pushes too hard, I think the reason a lot of folks don’t like Tiger is the media is often so slanted to have him win that it turns a lot of folks off. Still it is impressive that he has no putting game at all this week, hits it just average and still can finish tied for 6th. It just proves how good he really is.

The peoples choice, Phil Mickelson once again came up just a bit shy. Too many good story lines here if he did pull this one off. Now we look at his record in U S Opens and see five….count em five second place finishes. This might be like Arnold Palmer and the PGA Championship. Many close calls but he could never win that one. How many more shots will Phil get to be this close.

At the end it was Lucas Glover hoisting the trophy. One of the quietest and unassuming champions you could predict. With now two wins to his credit on the PGA tour, Glover gets a lot more attention, fame, and a smooth ten year exemption on the tour.

A lot of other big stories later this week including the finale of the College World Series and the start of Wimbledon.

Also I would be remiss if I did not mention a good friend of mine says to purchase your Colorado Rockies tickets now….for the playoffs. What a turnaround in Coors!

Until next week- Hit em straight!

US Open Preview

June 16, 2009

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This weekend marks the toughest challenge in professional golf. The 109th United States Open Championship. The United States Golf Association is always known to set up the US Open venue brutally difficult, and this year is sure to be no exception.

Bethpage Black – located in Bethpage Park in New York will host the event for the second time since 2002. Tiger Woods was the winner that year and many feel this year will be no different.

Bethpage is a very difficult and very long course. It is among just a few recent courses that have hosted US Opens that are accessible to the public to play. By now you have all read countless stories of die hard golfers sleeping in their cars overnight to play this golf course.

I am one of the biggest fans of golf I know, but I can’t imagine sleeping in the FJ Cruiser overnight in order to play this place. It is long, somewhat scenic, but we aren’t talking Augusta, St Andrews, Sandhills, Merion, or a bunch of other courses that would be much more enjoyable to play….

but I digress….

This course is just flat out difficult. Which alone will probably eliminate about 80% of the field from a chance at winning. In order to win most U.S. Opens you have to hit fairways, have a great short game, and play conservative yet aggressive. Here at Bethpage you also have to hit it a country mile as the course will play much the same as it did seven years ago.

Here are my favorites to contend this week.

1) Eldrick Tont Woods – Any reason to not take Tiger? Hmmm…#1 in the world, just coming off a win at the Memorial with one of his best Fairways Hit rounds in forever, and the last time they played here he was the only golfer under par for the tournament. I’ll play with the house money in this shocking pick.

2) Phil Mickelson – Sentimental favorite for three reasons. First of all, he has been close in the Open a couple of times. Second, his Wife Amy will start cancer treatments soon, and a lot of people would love to see lefty pull this rabbit out of the hat. Third, New Yahkaas Love Lefty!. Will undoubtedly be the favorite of the crown and one of the few that has the game to do it.

3) Jim Furyk – Furyk has a game suited for all U.S. Open venues. Drives it well, plays smart, good short game..Length here may hurt him a bit. He is also playing very well this year, good enough to win.

4) Geoff Oglivy – Stole the Open a few years back at Winged foot when Montgomerie and Mickelson spewed oil and threw gears on the finishing holes. Has been hot or cold this year but has the type of game that should succeed here.

5) Sergio Garcia – It pains me to pick him however you cannot discredit his ball striking abilities. He has the length to contend at this track. Biggest question with Sergio is will the locals remember the antics of 2002 and bring the heat on Sergio again in 2009. I for one am betting they don not forget and the crowd might just be the reason he is NOT around on Sunday.

Now that only leaves about 151 golfers I am not picking, so sit back this weekend, and enjoy another great installment of our National Championship.
Happy Fathers Day this weekend to all you dads out there!