Suzann Pettersen just wrapped up the McDonald’s LPGA Championship at Bulle Rock with a -14 total for four days. Now, I know the girls were playing the golf course at roughly 6,500 yards and that somewhat diminishes the difficulty, since the back tees measure somewhere in the 7,300 range, but 14-under par at that place is pretty friggin’ good. It’s REALLY good, in fact. I don’t care what set of tees you play, that’s golfing your ball.
The only disappointing thing I can point out is the fact that the women play the 18th hole at 385 yards. With water all the way down the left hand side, it’s a very intimidating tee shot no matter where you tee from. A few years ago I played in the Maryland Open at Bulle Rock and we played the 18th all the way back – at 492 yards (par 4) – and I can tell you it’s as scary a tee shot as you’ll ever hit in competition. I wouldn’t expect them to make the LPGA players play it all the way back to 492, but somewhere in the front of the back tee, from maybe 445 or something like that, would really make the finishing hole better and increase the pulse rate of the girls on the tee. Pettersen and runner-up Karrie Webb both hit 8-irons into the green for their 2nd shot at #18 today – that’s just not enough of a test for a major champion on the final hole, in my opinion.
Overall though, another great tournament at Bulle Rock and it looks like two years into this event, it’s starting to take hold in the Baltimore-Delaware region. Good crowds all weekend – and live coverage on The Golf Channel – showcased Bulle Rock and the golf market very well, I believe.
The U.S. Open technically begins tomorrow with practice rounds at Oakmont (PA) in suburban Pittsburgh. First round play begins on Thursday, of course. We’ll have plenty of U.S. Open discussion this week on The Comcast Morning Show, so if you’d like to talk about the year’s 2nd major, feel free to call the show or e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Let me say this – I don’t think Tiger is going to win. I would have been comfortable picking Mickelson if not for this wrist injury he sustained a few weeks back. I’m hearing he’s going to take a cortisone shot to better prepare himself for the rigors of Oakmont’s rough, but a wrist injury – especially with 5″ rough – is about the worst thing a player can have going into U.S. Open week.
I’ll give you a handful of names to ponder:
> Retief Goosen – Hasn’t really done anything since winning the U.S. Open at Shinnecock a few years back, so he’s just about due to win again. He’s one of those guys that kind of pops up out of nowhere, holds the hot putter, handles the frustrations of a U.S. Open course very well, and winds up shooting a couple of under and winning the tournament.
> J.J. Henry – Showed his heart at the Ryder Cup last year and proved he’s ready to step up to a “major challenge” like Oakmont. The only question of course…can he putt the greens? Then again, that’s the question for everyone. He can bomb it off the tee, hits his irons well and if you look back at the last few years, an American always sort of hangs around for a few days and gives himself a chance at being “a cinderella story” (remember Jason Gore at Pinehurst?). This year, it might be J.J. Henry who does the hanging around.
> Lucas Glover – Another “bomber” who could be the unknown American that makes it interesting this week at Oakmont.
> Carl Pettersson – I know a European hasn’t won the U.S. Open in forever, but Pettersson is a guy who’s sneaky long off the tee and plays the hard golf courses well. Uses the long putter, which would absolutely make the USGA officials puke if he won the U.S. Open with a broomstick, but he’s a guy who can get hot and make a lot of birdies…but can he do that on one of America’s toughest courses?
> Sergio Garcia – I know, I know…this guy NEVER gets it done on Sunday in a major. But if Tiger and Phil aren’t around on Sunday afternoon, this could be the year he breaks through. Might actually HIT the golf ball better than anyone in the world – but can he get it the hole once it’s on the green? That’s the key for Garcia. I think he’ll be there until the end this time around.
For some weird reason, I think Goosen is going to come out of nowhere and win this thing. It’s totally “out of the blue”, since he hasn’t played that well this year, but that’s when he jumps up and wins.
Winning score: 2-under par
A couple of quick notes on local golf. Congratulations to Tim Osgood, who won the Baltimore Spring Publinx this weekend with scores of 67 (Clifton Park) and 70 (Pine Ridge) for a 2-day total of 137. Brett Keller (66-75) was second. Your’s truly stumbled and bumbled his way to a 9th place finish with 72-74 (146). The two golf courses – run by Baltimore’s Classic 5 – were in great shape this weekend. If you haven’t played Clifton Park or Pine Ridge recently, give ‘em a try sometime soon. You’ll be impressed.
My home course, Mountain Branch, has recently undergone an ownership change and with that, they’ve made some dramatic improvements in the condition of the course. To that end, they’ve lowered the rates for a special “re-introduction” to Mountain Branch, so if you haven’t played out there in a while, give them a call at (410) 836-9600 and schedule a tee-time. Mon-Thur, the rate (including cart) is just $69.00 per-player and on Fri-Sat-Sun, it’s only $79.00 each. One of the great bargains in local golf, if you ask me.
One of the best amateur golf tournaments in the area comes to Mount Pleasant June 29-30 and July 1 – it’s the Maryland Amateur Stroke Play Championship. You have to own a handicap of 6 or less to get in – but it’s a great three day event (there’s actually a cut after round 2…top half of the field plays on Sunday) and if you’re craving for the “heat of competition”, the Stroke Play is the event for you. Go to: www.classic5golf.com for registration details. Hope to see you there.
Talk to you in the morning -