I realize the United States Golf Association (the governing body of golf in the U.S. and the organization that runs the U.S. Open) uses the U.S. Open as our country’s “national championship” and, in doing so, takes very seriously the task of determining who the best player is over the 4-day period every June.
But this is starting to get a little out-of-hand if you ask me.
Two rounds are complete in this year’s U.S. Open and only FOUR players have managed to break par in one round – Nick Dougherty (68) and Angel Cabrera (69) in round one and Paul Casey (66) and Stephen Ames (69) in round two. The average score in round two was just a hair under 77 strokes. Phil Mickelson used the word “carnage” to describe the aftermath left out on the golf course. Every hole, it seemed, was capable of forcing a player into a double-bogey from what appeared to be a benign location in the fairway or light rough.
If you think today was a circus, wait until tomorrow and Sunday. The weather in Pittsburgh is not going to change over the weekend. It will remain hot and breezy. And that means trouble.
Late today, as I peered out at the 8th green, I could see it was starting to change color. There was a slight tint of gray streaming through the green – and that’s probably just what the USGA wants to see. By late tomorrow afternoon, with no water to soften the greens and no chance for grass-growth, every green at Oakmont will probably be just about completely wrecked, making for a variety of missed 3-foot putts, a four-putt or two by some of the best players in the world and, most likely, another day where none of the leaders shoot even par or better.
I’m not so sure what’s going on at Oakmont is good for the spectators. It certainly might be entertaining at home – watching those guys battle their respective on-course demons. But for the people sitting in the stands and watching it unfold in front of them, the opportunity to let out a roar comes along about once an hour. And that doesn’t make sitting out there in the baking sun all afteroon worthwhile, if you ask me.
I think the players all understand that anytime they play in a U.S. Open, par is going to be a very acceptable score. I’m here to tell you that ANY par at Oakmont, no matter if it’s the 313-yard 17th hole or not, is a great score. But give the patrons on hand something to cheer about, I say. I was on hand today from 8:00 am until Tiger went through #8 at 6:30 pm…and I heard TWO roars all day. One came around 10:00 am when Mickelson made birdie at #6 (and you could have heard that roar all the way down at Heinz Field) and the other was at 3:00 pm or so when Olin Browne chipped in for birdie at #18. Other than that, no roars were heard today. So, while par is an acceptable score to the players, the fans just don’t have enough knowledge to cheer pars. They only know to cheer birdies. And they’re not seeing many of them this week.
Let’s see what tomorrow brings, but I think every guy will start tomorrow’s round thinking anything in in the 72-73-74 range will gain them ground on the field. And ANYONE at 70 or better will lap the field, most likely.
Based on what I’ve seen on-site, I’m now thinking a 4-day score of +8 will win the golf tournament.
I hope I’m wrong.
I want to hear some roars.