It is a wonderful tribute to the game or to the dottiness of the people who play it that for some people somewhere there is no such thing as an insurmountable obstacle, an unplayable course, the wrong time of the day or year.
Lorne Rubenstein writes:
If a championship is going to have a short par-four near the end, the green should be reachable from the tee to set up a possible birdie or eagle. There should also be enough trouble so that a player could make a bogey or worse if he tries to reach the green but doesn’t. Neither was the case with the compromised 18th hole yesterday.
There was no drama, then, as the golfers in contention came to the last tee. They couldn’t drive the elevated green, or get into trouble from the tee. Players whaled away at their drivers, which got them to the bottom of the hill within 50 yards or so of the green. Then it was a pop fly with a lob wedge to the green.
I've also heard the grumbling about a U.S. Open won by hitting 6-iron off the tee and about the lack of short grass in front of the green allowing for a run-up. Also heard that Glover didn't have to do anything significant to do on the last hole to secure the win. (I'm not even going to dignify that other than to say you could put someone on a polo field needing to make four to win the U.S. Open and it would be difficult.)
First off, Tiger Woods hit 4 iron off the 18th tee at Pebble Beach in 2000 en route to winning and I don't believe that tainted his victory.
Next, the 18th at Olympic Club and 18th at Inverness both play about the same as Bethpage's final round yardage of 354 yards. Actually, Bethpage's finisher was more interesting because at least the tee shot involved a decision, as Lucas Glover explained in his post round press conference. The last holes at Olympic and Inverness are all about keeping the ball in play, not about fairway positioning. As Glover pointed out, he contemplated the benefits of each position and ultimately went with the lay-up.
I would love to ask Mike Davis, Jeff Hall, Jim Hyler and Steve Smyers--the four who ultimately decided on this--if they had it to do over again, would they use a different hole location. There's a wonderful hole cut close to the right bunker and used in round 1 that would reward someone for driving it past the bunkers. That would reward a shorter, more controlled shot from the area past the bunkers.
I was standing on the tee when Davis placed the markers and when he consulted with Hall one last time. He anticipated players putting more spin on their second shots than it appeared they were able to Monday. I also noticed that players were not pulling their wedge shots back more on No. 14's front hole, so perhaps the wind firmed the greens up enough to eliminate those shots.
Either way, the 18th hole just stinks and this debate will hopefully not take place next time Bethpage hosts the U.S. Open because a solution will have been figured out.
From Damon Hack's 2009 U.S. Open engaging SI game story:
It seemed incongruous that the 29-year-old former Clemson Tiger and the pride of Greenville, S.C., would achieve greatness in the heart of Long Island. But sometime during his youth Glover became a closet New Yorker. He roots for the Yankees, owns a copy of every Seinfeld episode and reads Lee Child. In December 2005 he married Jennifer Smith, and the two picked New York City for their honeymoon.
It snowed the day before the newlyweds arrived in Manhattan, blanketing the city in white just as they had hoped. They stayed near Columbus Circle, across from Central Park. They ate at Koi, saw The Producers and went ice skating at Bryant Park.
Last week Glover mentioned to Jennifer that it would be nice to have a one-bedroom apartment in New York City. She started checking out Manhattan real estate prices. "A million dollars later," she said, "we'll be staying put."
Just noticed this in the Sandomir piece wrapping up the 2009 U.S. Open television coverage. Get your hankies out, this is downright moving:
“ESPN lost almost seven hours of live golf on Thursday,” Mark Carlson, the U.S.G.A.’s director of broadcasting, said. “We wanted everyone to walk away happy.” On Friday afternoon, Carlson said that Dick Ebersol, the chairman of NBC Universal Sports, told him: “I know how important ESPN is to you at the U.S.G.A. Let’s make sure they get some time on Monday.” ESPN carried the round from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. — which kept NBC from pre-empting the final two hours of “Today” — and NBC got the next two hours.
Is that touching or what? Ebersol looking out for ESPN like that?
I'm sure the Today Show had nothing to do with it! How could Sandomir even suggest such a thing! Blasphemy I tell you.
Lawrence Donegan noted Saturday that Setanta's demise could cost the PGA Tour upwards of $60 million in UK rights fee money. Now Steve Elling notes in an item buried in his Up and Down column that the tour has in fact acknowledged the checks won't be coming and that they are looking for a UK broadcaster.
"Our main focus is to immediately begin, and aggressively begin, to explore our options," tour VP Ty Votaw said Tuesday. The phones will be ringing at Sky Sports, Eurovision and ESPN, if they aren't already. As it stands, this week's Travelers Championship will not be broadcast in the U.K. -- nor any PGA Tour action outside of the majors and WGC events going forward -- unless a new deal is struck.
The PGA Tour's official statement is now posted.
Continuing to ensure his likeness will have a spot in the next Dan Jenkins novel, Anthony Kim gave another impressive press conference last week at the U.S. Open. I did not attend but heard about it and saved the printed version and finally read it today while going through my stuff.
He has no recollection of watching the 2002 Open at Bethpage. Fine. He caddied for Justin Timberlake in the Golf Digest break 100 deal, having never seen the course and prepared by practicing at Trump National Bedminster. Kim eventually played each nine once before the event. Bet you'd like to have known that before picking him in your pool!
But I loved this most.
Q. You won at Congressional last year; hosted an Open. The setup is so different, that there's no confidence built because you know you've won on a track that can host this kind of tournament?
ANTHONY KIM: I didn't even know that Congressional held the Open. But --
Q. It will again.
ANTHONY KIM: Now it gives me a little bit more confidence going into the week. So thank you. But I'm excited to hear that, because the course set up well for my eye.
Richard Sandomir reports:
And NBC would have most preferred a Tiger Woods victory, but he wasn’t up to it, not even on two good legs. I fear that in Woods’s inconsistency throughout the tournament, Miller lumped him in this critical catchall.
“If these guys were really smart,” he said after some putts that didn’t meet his standard of preparedness, they’d have gotten a tape of the 2002 Open at Bethpage Black, “to study the breaks” of the greens.
Hicks replied to Miller, “A few do.”
“I’ll bet there aren’t two guys who do it,” Miller said.
“I’ll bet Tiger Woods did,” Koch said.
After Hicks subsequently named Mike Weir as one of those on the course who asked for a tape, Miller attributed Weir’s foresight to his attending Brigham Young University, where Miller was an all-American.
Anyone watching and heard this care to report whether Johnny had tongue planted in cheek? I know sarcasm isn't his thing, so I'm going to guess this wasn't a joke.
Catching up on a few items lost in last week's Open and starting with this Peter Schworm piece on Ponkapoag still representing a lost opportunity as another Bethpage in the eyes of many. But $35 million to restore? Wow.
In many ways, the story of Ponkapoag is the story of lost opportunity, like a potentially winning putt that lips out on the 18th hole of a major championship. As the people of New York celebrate their rehabilitated course and the lucrative championship it hosts, the people at Ponkapoag, amid a downturn in golf, a suffering economy, and a chronic inferiority complex, are left to wonder what might have been.
Sure looks to me like there were a lot of scribblers happy they didn't have to stay for a playoff based on the spirited reporting. Here goes, starting with Doug Ferguson's game story.
Lucas Glover steadied his hands for a 3-foot par putt on the 18th hole, an anticlimatic finish to five dreary days at a U.S. Open filled with more delays than drama.
The unlikely champion turned to soak up a beautiful sight beneath gathering clouds Monday at Bethpage Black.
“I just looked at the scoreboard to make sure this was really happening,” Glover said.
Larry Dorman in the New York Times:
The United States Open concluded its rainy, muddy and chaotic five-day run at Bethpage Black on Monday, and it turned out to be more about grit than glamour, more grinding than grinning.
Cameron Morfit on Glover walking away from golf last fall and how that may have resurrected his career.
Steve Elling on Glover and how memories of Dick Harmon choked up the champion up after the round.
Sean Martin talks to caddy Don Cooper about the misunderstood Glover and their strategic approach to No. 18.
Golfweek posts video of this exclusive post round chat and this video of Alex Miceli's reaction along with more on Glover.
Here's his post-round interview in the press center.
The SI group kicks around this week's event and focuses mostly on Glover, with some chatter at the end about Bethpage's prospects.
Bill Pennington is with Phil Mickelson after the round and takes us inside the locker room to give some insight into how he's handling his 5th U.S. Open runner-up finish.
Gene Wojciechowski says Phil didn't blow this one and he won't dwell on it long.
Thomas Bonk on the men who almost won the Open and the wide array of reactions to losing.
Gary Van Sickle on Tiger's quick exit and his issues with slow poa greens.
Brad Klein goes inside NBC's broadcast center to explain how the final round telecast was produced.
John Strege on a call David Duval made to his sports psychologist last week that probably helped his cause.
Strege also posts some miscellaneous notes.
An AP story on Hunter Mahan's horrible break at No. 16.
Ryan Ballengee wonders if New York is on the verge of becoming majorless for a while.
Tom Dunne with some miscellaneous thoughts about the week.
Mark Soltau puts together the best quotes of the day.
Michael Bamberger dissects face gestures and player jargon.
And finally, I didn't see much on the decision to move the 18th tee up, but there have already been plenty of comments about how the decision was somehow a mistake in setup tactics because Lucas Glover hit 6 iron off the tee. I can see the hole location being debated, but let's not forget, it's just a really bad hole.
Doug Ferguson's game story and his lede:
Halfway through his third round, Ricky Barnes had a six-shot lead and a smile to match in the U.S. Open. Ten holes later, with darkness gathering, he couldn't get off Bethpage Black fast enough.
Larry Dorman's NY Times story includes a revealing image of Ricky Barnes after his first hole bogey (before halting of play) and this lede:
The 15 hours of daylight during the year’s longest day was not enough to illuminate a finish to the soggy United States Open at Bethpage Black on Sunday. But just before it died, it lighted the corners and cracks of the games of the co-leaders Ricky Barnes and Lucas Glover and gave some insight into what may happen on Monday when final round continues at 9 a.m.
Thomas Bonk on Phil Mickelson's state of mind. Sean Martin also weighs in on Phil. As does Bill Pennington.
Bob Harig on the final pairing. You'll love finding out who Barnes is sandwiched between on the world ranking.
John Strege tells us things we might not know about Ricky Barnes. I definitely forgot about his interesting path to the final pairing of the US Open.
Ian Poulter Tweets from the course (between rounds) to show us mud on his ball. The heartbreaking image is here.
SI digs up a 2003 profile of Barnes.
Gary Van Sickle makes final round picks.
Bill Fields reminds us of some other strange majors while Steve Elling says this one is pretty much the worst, not that it's anyone's fault.
Mark Soltau compiles the best quotes of the day.
TV Times are here.
And mopping a few items missed yesterday:
Michael Buteau talks to Pete Bevacqua of the USGA about the importance of Tiger Woods to golf: “He’s our own TARP money." And shares this:
Because organizers sold less than 50 hospitality tents, which range in price from $32,500 for a table of 12 inside a course-side pavilion to $230,000 for a 40-foot-by-40-foot shelter, the association was left with about 1,500 additional daily and weekly ticket packages to sell to the public.
The tents that were sold remain shrouded in anonymity. There are no visible marquees because the occupants do not want to be known.
“Everybody is afraid of being seen out here,” Bevacqua said. “Until people understand how effective a tool this is, corporations will still use this as a tool, but they don’t want to draw attention or exposure to themselves.”
Newsday notes on Tiger's hecklers Saturday.
"We're on Long Island, baby, where men are men!" one fan yelled. "Put that umbrella down!" The taunts were mixed with cheers from the majority of the crowd. Woods did not respond to the people who were heckling him but tried to quiet the crowd with a "sshh" hand gesture, putting his finger to his lips, as golfers prepared to tee off on the adjacent 12th tee. "Suck it up, you've got your own video game!" someone shouted at Woods.
The best sports fans in the world.
Press center debate has been spirited over what to call the caps worn by Ricky Barnes and Ryan Moore. Painter's cap? Choo-Choo cap?
Personally, I think this tells us what to call it:
John Paul Newport reports that brother to Rees, son of Robert Trent Jones, and architect of the stars Robert Trent Jones II wonders why his brother blew it more wasn't done to help Bethpage drain better in wet conditions. Family!
Can you recall a day where so much could happen? I suppose it'd be more exciting if the rain would stop and the people could just enjoy a great day of golf.
Comment away! Johnny, Dan, Tiger, Ricky, Phil, Tilly...whatever crosses your mind. Predictions welcome too.
NBC comes on at 11 a.m. EST. Here's my Twitter feed:
GolfDigest.com has posted this Sunday primer on the scenarios, statements and status of the 3rd and 4th rounds.
If they can start at 7:30, there's a chance the round is finished reports Doug Ferguson. Amazing. A re-pair will not happen if the weather is holding things up again.
Bob Harig talks to players about the difficulty of playing with so many stops and starts.
Adam Schupak on Ricky Barnes and his rebirth, looking to become the first man to win a major wearing a painters cap.
Here I was listening to Lucas Glover talk after his round and found myself nodding off. After Cameron Morfit's profile, I'm reminded why he's a guy to root for.
Mark Soltau with the days best quotes. Love Ogilvy's, really bored with Tiger's poa-green complaints.
Speaking of Tiger, Gary Van Sickle has a full report on the world No. 1's day.
Sam Weinman kicks off the discussion about luck in majors and just how much was involved with this year's draw. This year's Open definitely surpasses the worst draw contrast in recent memory: the 2008 Northern Trust Open.
Jeff Babineau makes the case that the Open is more than just Tiger and Phil.
Trevor Murphy, the shock TV star of Saturday's round, filed this diary entry for GolfDigest.com.
Golfweek's coverage is here, including a couple of player blogs from Rickie Fowler and Matt Nagy.
Tim Rosaforte explains David Duval's New York connection, if you are so inclined to root for him.
And finally, Jaime Diaz interviews Dan Jenkins about Ben Hogan. And if you haven't been following Dan on Twitter, you're missing out.
"The new USGA mantra: We're not trying to humiliate the best players in the world. We're just trying to get them to finish before Wednesday."
That's Sam Weinman's clever headline to my GolfDigest.com item on low scoring at Bethpage and the USGA's reaction to the sea of red.
Lawrence Donegan reports that the demise of sports network Setanta means that the UK rights holder to PGA Tour coverage may be leave the Tour as "the hardest hit sports league."
Where will the PGA tour go now? Sky, which used to hold the rights and bid around £5m-a-year when they came up for auction in 2006, may be interested. But it will not be interested at a price anywhere near that paid by Setanta - especially as it was miffed to lose the contract in the first place.
It is hard to know for certain because we don't know how the deal with Setanta was structured. But let's say the $103 million was spread evenly over the reported five years; that's $20.6 million a year. Two years have already elapsed, which leaves three years at $20.6 million - a total of $61.8 million. Ouch!