Monday, June 17, 2013

U.S. Open in 1 ... 2 ... 3 ... Fore!

1. I'm not sure which I liked better: Tiger's three duffed chips, Phil's bladed wedge or Steve Stricker's shanked iron.

I'll say they all were equal fun and give a big thumbs-up to the two big winners at the U.S. Open:

Justin Rose and Merion Golf Club.

2. As a teen amateur sensation, Rose finished fourth in the 1998 British Open -- right around the time a young Tiger Woods was taking the golf world by storm. Bursting with confidence, Rose immediately turned pro ... and then proceeded to turn into a golfing mediocrity. He eventually became a solid European pro and challenged in a few majors, but it wasn't until he made a bunch of ridiculous putts in last fall's Ryder Cup -- earning opponent Phil Mickelson's applause and carrying the Europeans to a sensational comeback victory -- that casual golf fans were reminded how good he could be.

On Sunday, he again bested Mickelson to drop off the list of best golfers never to win a major. (Stricker, alas, remains high on said list.)

To say Mickelson choked late and blew yet another chance at an Open title wouldn't be very fair. Merion was an absolute demon that didn't give anybody anything. Sure, the bogey at 13 -- by far the easiest hole -- was a killer, but Phil battled the course better than most.

I mean, even Rose finished over par for the event.

3. In the last five years, Tiger has won exactly as many majors as Elin Nordegren has.

4. I loved that an old-school, less-than-7,000-yard course could tame the best golfers in the world thanks to tight fairways, brutal rough and amazingly difficult-to-read greens. Even on Sunday, the pros were missing 8-foot putts by 18 inches. That simply doesn't happen on the PGA Tour.

Yes, I enjoy watching sensational shots, and there were plenty. But I also enjoy it when Sergio gets a 10 and saying, "Hell, I could have done that!" When Tiger chunked back-to-back chips, I laughed out loud.

Been there, done that.

And to think: Before the tournament, the usually astute Johnny Miller looked at the rain-soaked greens and predicted that Merion would be putty in the pros' hands.

Ain't it great when the experts are wrong?

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