An Autopsy Called The U. S. Open
As you analyze golf's four major championships, you find that all of them are really very different in what they do to challenge the golfer and his mettle. And this U.S. Open promises to be the "classic open test", based on what I saw for a little while yesterday afternoon. Tiny greens, firm and fast conditions and gnarly rough everywhere will take these guys out of their week-in, week-out comfort zone of playing relative pushover golf courses with large greens that are soft and receptive, and rough that really isn't, all that much. No, this week, all the weaknesses of their games, both in the sense of skills and mental approach, will be revealed for all the world to see.

The Open at Pebble Beach has produced four outstanding champions in Nicklaus, Kite, Watson and Woods, but who will prevail this week? My bet is that it will be either a proven major champion or possibly one of the lesser-known pros who we might not have even thought of. Because what this Open championship will demand is a complete presence of mind to accept what the golf course deals out, and play on through. It will require the golfer to be able to step outside his normal tournament mindset and play differently, more defensively, more strategically. And accept that there will be disasters along the way.

There will not be the huge greens with collection areas like we see so often on the PGA Tour. There will be no landing strip fairways, and it won't be a "bomb and throw darts" kind of contest. The greens, by Saturday and Sunday, will not be the no-flaw pool tables these guys are accustomed to.

This one will require them to play par golf, and that is not what they are mentally trained or prepared to do (most of these guys haven't thought 72 was a good score since they were in their teens!). Imagine if you found yourself on a golf course that was maybe 8-15 shots harder than the one you were familiar with. If your normal score was not only totally unattainable, but not even approachable. If what you were used to seeing the ball do . . . it just would not do. It would throw you so far out of your mental comfort zone, your basic ability to hit the golf shots you know would be compromised. That's what the U.S. Open does to the "lesser players" on the PGA Tour.

Every week, these guys bomb for birdies, knowing it will take 15-25 of them in 72 holes to have a chance to win. Par is what they "settle for", when the birdie isn’t made. And bogey is that rare hiccup that sneaks in, but can be compensated for with another string of birdies. Those that are "on" make the cut and possibly contend; those that aren't pack it up for the next week. But not here. Not at Pebble Beach. Not at the U.S. "friggen" Open!

As you sequester yourself away from the family and park in front of the TV for the endless hours of watching this unfold, pay attention to how each player changes his approach to playing in an attempt to deal with the challenge at hand. By this afternoon, some will be packing and headed on down the road. Imagine how it must feel to be a tour professional, one of the best 150 or so golfers in the world . . . who just got humbled by shooting a couple of 80s . . . or worse.

"Hey, I'm a PGA Tour champion and just shot 80. How the heck did that happen?"

You can call me a sicko, but I think it's fun to watch these over-pampered guys, who play perfect golf courses and shoot lights out every week, have their stuff handed to them by something as simple as a golf course. And I can’t wait to see more of it.
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[ comments ]
birdieXris says:
Watching now... It's soo much fun. :)
6/18/10
 
mjaber says:
I saw a little bit yesterday. It made me feel good. The US Open seems to turn the pros into "weekend hackers" like me. I love it.
6/18/10
 
falcon50driver says:
Just went to CNN website....Headline.....Woods trails leader McDowell at US Open?... (oh! and 39 other people too)
6/18/10
 
nobaddays says:
I look forward to it every year, I wish they played more courses that really challenges them
6/18/10
 
dave1269 says:
While I enjoy the annual test provided by the USGA, I do think that, on some holes, the USGA has gone too far. IMO, the hole location on #14 during the second round was unfair. I watched Poulter hit a very solid wedge shot onto the green (his 3rd); when the carnage was over, he wrote down an 8. Given his first 3 shots, that was an extremely unfair result.
6/19/10
 
c5agalb says:
Go Phil Go
6/19/10
 
GolfGeek69 says:
Amazing how the leaderboard can change so quickly. Phil is the man. What a great second round.
6/19/10
 
Swingem says:
@ Dave-agreed on the 14th. That green is over 90 years old and is not designed to be played as fast as US-Open conditions demand . The only pin placements possible are on the upper tier and the rest of the green is basically a throw-away. It definately needs an update. Go Phil!
6/19/10
 
wedgeguy says:
I could kind of agree that the 14th was not very forgiving, and probably presented a ridiculously small target, but "fair"? What in the world is fair about this crazy game of golf anyway? I think it was Nicklaus who explained that there is nothing fair about trying to hit a small white ball across a quarter mile or more of real estate and trying to get it into a hole less than three times the ball's diameter. But isn't this fun? While some made big numbers there, the majority of the field managed to negotiate the hole with nothing worse than a bogey, didn't they? And I'm right there with merlin2driver -- my paper's sports section page 1 story was about Tiger's 66 to get into third. What about the other 66 that put Johnson in the lead by 2???? Sheesh.
6/20/10
 
Scott Shields says:
classic. I love it.
6/21/10
 
Banker85 says:
Tiger gets readers and ratings, you guys haven't picked up on that yet huh?
6/21/10
 
Banker85 says:
i absolutely loved the carnage!
6/21/10
 
birdieXris says:
I haven't yet been able to find highlights that actually have other people's highlights. I was looking on the mobile app all weekend and everything that said "highlights of round 3" was just like 4 shots of Tiger's. Apparently he is the only one playing the US Open this year.
6/21/10
 
KVSmith59 says:
your article was right on the money
6/21/10
 
erikro says:
St. Andrews will be fun to watch too...
6/21/10
 
birdieXris says:
@erikro- While i agree that the tournament will be fun to watch, most of the non-tourney coverage will again be taken up with too much tiger. He's done well on that track in the past, and all the networks are sure to harp on that. 2 days after the last round of the US open at 6:47 in the morning i FINALLY saw the double eagle highlight from this weekend -- then right after that - "how do you think tiger will do at St. Andrews?" ugh.
6/22/10
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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