Sunday, June 16, 2013

U.S. Open -- Day Four Wrap-Up

All along.

I am soooo glad I went to church instead of watching Phil Mickelson blow another U.S. Open.  I would feel even worse now if I had had to watch Phil trying vainly to hole that shot from 40 yards out on 18.

We have covered this year's National Open in unusual depth, even for us, and there's not a lot more to say at this point.  I will only make a few points:

1.  Merion is truly one of the great courses in the world.  I hadn't seen a golf tournament here since 1981, and I had no idea how good it is.  If I had to pick a single course to hold the U.S. Open every year, I would pick Merion.  And I believe that if Merion did host the U.S. Open every year, it would be just as famous and just as beloved as Augusta National.  Almost every hole on the course is memorable, and some of them -- such as 9, 11, 13, 16, and 17 -- are spectacular.

2.  Philadelphia did a wonderful, wonderful job of hosting the U.S. Open.  Because it's stuck on the East Coast with the snobs who live in Boston, New York, and Washington, Philadelphia's good qualities are often overlooked or even ridiculed.  East Coast sophisticates think it's cute and charming that provincial cities like Pittsburgh and Green Bay have so much hometown pride.  But when a truly great and historic city like Philadelphia exhibits regional pride, the sophisticates make fun of it.  Personally, I am thrilled that the U.S. Open went to a city that really appreciated it, and I am sad (but not surprised) that the Smart Folks are already arguing that Merion is too small to ever host the Open again.

3.  Mike Davis, who sets up courses for the U.S. Open, is exactly the sort of golf nerd I wanted to be as a kid.  Without him, I don't think the USGA would have taken a chance on Merion.  Davis is always trying to do cool things with the National Open.  Sometimes -- like when there was almost no rough at the 2011 Open at Congressional -- the results are disappointing.  But this year his set-up was brilliant, and he deserves credit for a wonderful tournament.

4.  The poor quality of American golf is simply stunning to me.  I don't understand why no one in the press has bothered to report on why young American golfers are so much worse than their foreign counterparts.  We lose the Ryder Cup virtually every time it is contested, and foreign golfers have won 14 of the last 20 majors.  Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods are each at least five years past their primes, and they are still the only two American golfers who can hold their own with the world's best.  Guys like Rickie Fowler, and Dustin Johnson, and Brandt Snedeker -- who are supposed to be big American stars -- are absolutely dreadful in major tournaments.  And did anyone really think Hunter Mahan was going the distance?  We are clearly doing something wrong when it comes to developing young golfers, but I don't know what it is.

5.  Having said that, congrats to Michael Kim, an American who finished at 10 over par, in a tie for 17th place, and who was this week's Low Amateur.

6.  I'm afraid Tiger is seriously hurt again.  After playing so well through the first five months of the year, he looked terrible at Memorial and at Merion.  It wouldn't surprise me if takes a lot more time off to heal -- he certainly doesn't like scuffling along in 32d place.

7.   I feel bad for Phil Mickelson, and I know he's disappointed about a sixth second-place finish in the U.S. Open.  But come on.  He made two double-bogeys on the front nine.  And then, after he got a chip-in eagle on 10 to take the lead -- the biggest break any golfer had all day -- he managed to bogey the 13th hole (the easiest hole on the course) and the 15th hole (which he had parred three days in a row).  That is not championship golf.  And no, I still haven't forgotten how Mickelson gave away the 2006 U.S. Open.

8.  By Friday, Justin Rose was a pretty obvious pick to win this thing -- he's an international golfer who's used to playing on the big stage, like Graeme McDowell, or Adam Scott, or lots of other recent major winners.  But he still had to go out and hit the shots, and he overcame whatever bug has affected other English golfers like Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, and Ian Poulter.  In fact, he's the first Englishman to win a major tournament since Nick Faldo in 1996.  Shooting even-par 70 at Merion today was extremely impressive, and he is very much a deserved winner.  Graeme McDowell's win at the 2010 U.S. Open sparked a flurry of major wins from two other Ulstermen -- Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke.  It will be interesting to see if Rose's victory inspires any of his countrymen to make a similar breakthrough at the British Open in Muirfield.

9.  Finally, it should be noted that since 2011, Jason Day has a second-place finish at the Masters, a third-place finish at the Masters, and two second-place finishes at the U.S. Open.   That's 4 top 3 finishes in 11 Major starts.  Given that he's only 25, I expect to hear more from Mr. Day.

Here is the top of the final leaderboard:

1.  J. Rose (ENG):  +1 (71+69+71+70=281)

T2.  J. Day (AUS):  +3 (70+74+68+71=283)
T2.  P. Mickelson+3 (67+72+70+74=283)

T4.  J. Dufner:  +5 (74+71+73+67=285)
T4.  E. Els (RSA):  +5 (71+72+73+69=285)
T4.  B. Horschel:  +5 (72+67+72+74=285)
T4.  H. Mahan:  +5 (72+69+69+75=285)

T8.  L. Donald (ENG):  +6 (68+72+71+75=286)
T8.  S. Stricker+6 (71+69+70+76=286)

T10.  H. Matsuyama (JPN):  +7 (71+75+74+67=287)
T10.  N. Colsaerts (BEL):  +7 (69+72+74+72=287)
T10.  G. Fernandez-Castano (ESP):  +7 (71+72+72+72=287)
T10.  R. Fowler+7 (70+76+67+74=287)


  1. Congratulations again on picking Rose. I've added the "All Along" label to this post.

  2. Previous reports:

    -- Tournament preview
    -- Day One commentary and wrap
    -- Day Two commentary and wrap
    -- Day Three commentary and wrap
    -- Day Four commentary