Brock’s Random Thoughts: The U.S. Open
The 114th United States Open Golf Championship is this week at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina. And I have a confession to make: I hate the U.S. Open.
Maybe it's not the U.S. Open, it's the United States Golf Association (USGA). They run the U.S. Open, and I believe they have an extremely flawed thinking on how the U.S. Open champion should be determined.
The USGA operates under the assumption that even par is a good score. Therefore, they trick up the course so that the best players in the world can't shoot even par over four days. This line of thinking defies description, in my opinion.
A major championship is supposed to be difficult, that's why it's a major. Thin fairways, slick greens, deep bunkers and water are a staple at our national championship. But you have to make the course playable and reward the players for making good shots. The USGA sets up the Open to penalize good shots, and crush you if you make bad shots. Another problem is the fact that Pinehurst plays to over 7,500 yards at a par 70. There is no way that you can shoot better than even par under those dimensions.
The other majors (Masters, British Open, PGA Championship) seem to have figured out a good balance between rewarding good/great shots and penalizing bad ones. The one variable the British Open has is the wind and the weather. If the wind is benign, you can shoot a really low score with the wide-open courses they have in Britain. But if the wind is up, 78 or even 80 is a good score. At the Masters, there's almost no rough. But the greens are tough, and there's water and other danger all over the place. The PGA has a good balance too: Tough, long courses. But playable and not as mentally draining as the U.S. Open.
The U.S. Open used to be the greatest tournament in the world. but because of the very organization that runs it (the USGA), it's not anymore. The Masters, and even the British Open (especially for the international players) have passed the U.S. Open in terms of prestige, in my opinion.
For the record, I like Matt Kuchar to win this week at Pinehurst. He's a former U.S. Amateur champion and has won The Players Championship. He's also been close in a number of other majors. But like many people, I'm rooting for Phil Mickelson. It might be his last, best shot to win the one major that has eluded him.