The U.S. Open Needs Fixing

I’ve finally come around to the thinking that the USGA completely over-manages the preparation of the Open courses. They took a spectacular and historic course and robbed it of it’s natural playability, whiched sucked the drama right out of the event.

The 18th at Pebble is one of the great finishing holes in golf, and should be a place of great drama, but the winner played it three-wood, wedge, wedge, two putts. They said on the telecast that only 15% of the worlds greatest golfers landed their ball on the 17th green. Tiger Woods hit what he thought was a perfect drive on #6, setting up a potential eagle, only to have it run and run on the rock-hard fairway over a cliff. Dustin Johnson missed the second green by five feet and nearly had to take an unplayable. Johnson’s meltdown was the only dramatic element of the day yesterday.

There were three Hall-Of-Famers out there in the final few groups, and the course had them playing so defensively it threw their games off. Graeme McDowell is a fine golfer with a nice track record, but a U.S. Open champion? Lucas Glover, too. And Michael Campbell. This is happening too often recently. The way to win the Open is to play as cautiously as possible and make a few lucky putts. Not what I want to see, and not the way to identify our National Champion.

McDowell led the entire field in putting for the weekend. That helped.

Why not just put it to a vote then - you could have a “Go Lefty!” party and a “In the Hole Tiger!” one. It’d be great.

Or, you could set out a tough course and the worlds best golfers can play four rounds on it and see who does best! If they play defensively and it throws their game off, well boo fucking hoo.

The winner finished at even par. To me, that means that the course was set up exactly right. In addition, some of the top players in the world ended up in the top five, and the young, relatively unknown 54-hole leader completely blew up in the final round. Those are all things that you would expect to happen in a fair test to identify the national champion.

I don’t think you need to manufacture drama to make a great championship. The U.S. Open is not just my favorite golf tournament, but also my favorite sporting event of the year, because of the slow, relentless grind that creates the winner. I was thinking yesterday that I always prefer defense in sports (in baseball I much prefer a pitching duel to a home run chase), and that the defense at the Open, which was provided by the course, was one of the best I’ve ever seen.

On the poa annua greens that are at Pebble combined with the speed and firmness that the USGA sets the greens at, it does introduce a lot of luck in the putting where someone could putt great and not make anything due to how bouncy the ball behaves on poa greens. The biggest issue in certain majors, not just the Open, where you start to get winners who a lot of people might think were a little fluky such as Michael Campbell, Ben Curtis, etc is that the courses for those weeks were setup so difficult or played difficult because of weather conditions that the winning 72 hole score was very high. The governing bodies of each of the majors have gone to great lengths to doctor their courses to try to combat improved technology and the long driving of the tour pros. The best players in the world make a lot of birdies. When the course makes it really tough to make more than 2 or 3 birdies a day it evens out the playing field and allows more plodders and solid but not spectacular players to have a good chance to win. This might not be a bad thing, but it almost eliminates the chances for a Mickelson, Woods, Els to go out and shoot a 66 on Sunday and get the crowd into it. Did anyone shoot under par yesterday that started the day in the top 15? Unless something changes i expect that you can expect more results like Zach Johnson winning the Masters at 3 over or Ben Curtis, Shaun Micheel, Michael Campbell winning majors out of nowhere. I am not saying they did not deserve to win, because they certainly did, but course setups have eliminated a lot of the excitement on the Sundays of majors unless you consider it exciting to see which player will blow up the least amount and shoot final round 74s or 75s and still win.

to win the Open is to play as cautiously as possible and make a few lucky putts. Not what I want to see, and not the way to identify our National Champion.

Journeyman who won the US Open is not a new phenomenon.

Remember Orville Moody?
Lou Graham?
Andy North? won twice, and one other tournament.
Scott Simpson?
Jack Fleck?

Since Scott Simpson won it in '87, we had a long run of worthy champions with only Steve Jones in '96 an outlier. Now we’ve had three in five years.

I don’t see what is unexciting about this. I also don’t see how you want to set up a course so that it’d be different. You could make it easy so that -18 or lower is routinely a winning score but so what, that’s just making the “par” score unrealistic relative to the players actually playing the course.

(Having said that the Open this year is at St Andrews, not all that much of a test for these guys, unless the weather blows up. This is a special case, but shouldn’t be, they should play at Carnoustie more often)

I’m genuinely mystified by this. Perhaps there’s things to do to make it hard for guys who have nothing to their games other than enormous driving ability, but I think major courses already do this. Other courses (Augusta?) certainly make the greens hard as fuck to play. Like I said, mystified.

Or four in 23 years. Perhaps you could design a course that guarantees the people you think deserve to win, win. Good luck with that.

Would you call the golf we saw yesterday exciting? There wasn’t a single birdie on the back nine yesterday from the top five finishers, save for Tiger Woods on 14 when he was already out of it.

At the time Angel Cabrera won the US Open, you would have said the same thing about him.

Mike Weir, Zach Johnson, and Trevor Immelman have won the Masters. Good players, but not stars

Stewart Cink, Paul Lawrie, Todd Hamilton, and Ben Curtis have won the British open.

YE Yang, Shaun Micheel, Rich Beem have won the PGA.

Journeyman have a history of winning all the majors.

Yes. That wasn’t the most exciting finish ever, granted, but it was tense for a good long while, up until the last pair played through the 16th iirc (it was late verging on early here :wink: ). I just don’t understand this thing about par. It’s just a fairly arbitrary tariff - the winner takes the least amount of strokes, surely?

Angel Cabrera was #9 in the World Golf Rankings in 2005. He earned his tour card in 2006 while he wasn’t even a regular member. He was on the President’s Cup team in 2005 and 2007. Cabrera was a great golfer at the time of his U.S. Open victory.

I’d also question Mike Weir’s status. He had won five PGA events before the Masters. That’s pretty good.

In order to not be a journeyman when you win a major, you have to have won a major already. :slight_smile:

Michael Campbell a few years back.

BTW, it was 3-wood, 8-iron, wedge on 18.

Couldn’t have said it better.

But also, Pebble is just a beauty to behold. I was down there during the week, and every time I go there I just marvel at how this is easily one of the, if not the, most beautiful places on earth. The course is great. It’s so much a part of the landscape/oceanscape there.

I disagree strongly. Don’t need to see 12 or 20 under win every week. They all played the same course. I may not care to see a US Open set-up every week, but once a year is fine with me. And yes, a not inconsequential part of me likes to see the game approach being as tough for the pros as it is for most of us mortals.

No one but Ernie sent 2 shots over the cliff on the same hole Sunday. How are the course set up or bumpy greens to blame for that?

Today’s golfers are phenomenally talented. But let’s not overlook the role modern equipment and grooming contribute to the usual low scores. For decades, scores were much higher on less-manicured courses and with ruder equipment. You saying that wasn’t golf?

Slightly off-topic, but here’s one thing about the US Open that definitely DOES NOT need fixing (from the USGA spectator guide):

I heard a talk show host discussing this yesterday. I’ve never been to a tournament, but it might be worth the price of admission just to experience a day without cell phones! :stuck_out_tongue:

OTOH, NBC showed McDowell in the practice area before his round putting with one hand and scrolling through his text messages with the other.

I dont mind seeing the courses play really hard i would just like to see the luck factor reduced so that if 2 golfers hit the exact same putt they should both either make or miss which was not the case last week. Having lightning fast greens which are bumpy as well increases the luck factor greatly on the greens. Was Tiger lucky in 2000 when he made everything he stood over at Pebble? For one thing the greens were smoother that year and there were 3 or 4 putts over that week that he hit that bounced all over the place but managed to fall. He still would have won if they didnt but this week the luck factor on the greens could easily have helped determine the result of the tourney which i dont like to see.

I personally really like watching these smug bastards fall apart like wet cardboard. I like seeing par mean something. I wish there were a lot more tournaments like it.

I enjoyed watching that spectacular choke job by Dustin Johnson immensely. Dude made Greg Norman look like Joe Montana.