Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos
  • Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    by Jim Moriarty
  • Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    by Kevin Cook
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    by Richard Gillis
  • The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    by Martin Davis
  • A Life Well Played: My Stories
    A Life Well Played: My Stories
    by Arnold Palmer
  • Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    by Kevin Robbins
  • Teeing Off: Players, Techniques, Characters, and Reflections from a Lifetime Inside the Game
    Teeing Off: Players, Techniques, Characters, and Reflections from a Lifetime Inside the Game
    by Ken Bowden

Celebrated as Ben's reign has been both by the golf and nongolfing public throughout the world--for after his comeback from his near-fatal accident Ben became a human interest story and a powerfully popular figure for thousands who "never swung a tee"--we are probably still too closest to his separate triumphs, still too bedazzled by his commanding, combative, concentric personality, to appreciate how phenomenal he has been over a period of years purely and simply as a golfer. In the years to come, I am sure, the sports public, looking back at his record, will be struck by awe and disbelief that any one man could have played so well so regularly.   HERBERT WARREN WIND on Ben Hogan




Memorial Ratings Success; LPGA Not So Hot

Tod Leonard on the weekend ratings:

Tiger Woods is back in the winner's circle, just in time for the U.S. Open and for golf's stagnant TV ratings.

With Woods winning in comeback fashion Sunday at the Memorial, the overnight numbers for CBS were a 3.8 rating and a 9 share. That is double what the Colonial received (1.8/4) the week before when Steve Stricker own a three-man playoff. Anything doubled is huge for the networks.

The golf also doubled up the French Open final, with Roger Federer winning his 14 major title.

The LPGA Tour made a rare appearance on network television on NBC, and though the finish was bunched, it didn't have big names, and the ratings were low. In-Kyung Kim's win Sunday drew an 0.6, or half of what the Prefontaine track event did for NBC, also on Sunday. Not a promising sign for women's golf


New 7th and 8th Holes At Olympic

Joel Stewart posts a study of Olympic's 8 hole then and now after Bill Love's renovation. I recently stopped in and saw the new holes and I can't say I was enthralled, particularly since the 7th had managed to confound players for so long and looks pretty uninspired now.


2009 U.S. Open Sectional Results**


Autograph Seeker Disguised As Golf Writer Goes Unnoticed

Alex Miceli reports the first of two blows for the golf writing cause (not to mention a less humorous security breakdown). The first involves an autograph seeker slipping into Tiger's press conference and after hearing one too many banal questions, finally blurted out his request.

“Jack’s going to hate me for this. (Interloper stands up) Tiger, congratulations for winning the Memorial. I’m a normal person that snuck in here with a patron badge. I was just wondering if I could get an autograph.”

Nicklaus apparently intervened and got the man Tiger's autograph before they carted him off.

The Rally Killer of all Rally Killers? Or does this make him a Point Misser?

While the above exchange is not in the transcript, this low blow was:

Q. Tiger, not to be fishing, but wonder if I could maybe get personal on the issue of do you actually read anything that we write or watch anything that guys say on TV, or is it secondhand information?

TIGER WOODS: It's more TV.


Monty Not Physically Injured By Damage To His Bentley

But as James Corrigan reports, the mental scars may haunt his trips to Celtic Manor over the next two years.

After starting the weekend in a tie for eighth, he finished in a tie for 37th and is still waiting for his season's first all-important top 10. Little wonder he refused to talk to reporters following his 71.

Yet it seems there may have been more contributing to his mood than mere bogeys and pars. There was also the little matter of some rather costly, not to mention disrespectful, damage to his car. While Pavin was granted a police escort to the church from his hotel before playing yesterday morning,

Whoa wait a second...a police escort to church for Pavin and mere valet parking for Monty? Who is the European Captain again? Sorry, continue...

poor old Montgomerie was left to survey his pride and joy which had supposedly been safely parked in the valet area. A fellow hotel resident (female) clearly did not check in the rear-view mirror sufficiently. Crunch!

It was no laughing matter – honest – as Montgomerie had to jump in with his father while his Bentley was off in a local garage being repaired. Yes, it would be a long journey home to Scotland. But Monty will be back. For his motor and for the Ryder Cup.


2009 U.S. Open Sectional Storylines

Some of the names that caught my eye for today's play courtesy of the USGA's release. I'll try to get some scoring links up courtesy of readers who think they can beat


Saticoy Country Club (Somis, Calif.)

· Tim Hogarth of Northridge, Calif., won the 1996 U.S. Amateur Public Links and was a 1999 USGA Men’s State Team participant.

· Jamie Lovemark of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., played on the winning 2007 USA Walker Cup team. He was the individual champion at the 2007 NCAA Division I Championship as a member of the University of Southern California golf team.

· Duffy Waldorf of Northridge, Calif., is a four-time PGA Tour winner who has played in 13 U.S. Opens, tying for ninth in 1994, and was a member of the victorious 1985 USA Walker Cup team.

Lake Nona Golf and Country Club (Orlando, Fla.)

· John Cook of Orlando, Fla., was the 1978 U.S. Amateur champion and 1979 U.S. Amateur runner-up. He is an 11-time winner on the PGA Tour and has played in 23 U.S. Opens. His best finish came in 1981 (4th). A member of the Champions Tour, he also finished fifth in the 2008 U.S. Senior Open.

 Hawks Ridge Golf Club (Ball Ground, Ga.)

· Matthew Kuchar of Atlanta, Ga., is a former standout at Georgia Tech and a PGA Tour member who won the 1997 U.S. Amateur. A member of the 1999 USA Walker Cup team, Kuchar has played in six U.S. Opens, earning low-amateur honors in 1998 with a 14th-place finish. He tied for 48th last year.

· Grayson Murray, 15, of Raleigh, N.C., is the youngest player in all of the sectional qualifying fields (DOB: Oct. 1, 1993).

Woodmont Country Club (Rockville, Md.)

· Fred Funk of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., is a member of the PGA and Champions Tours who has played in 19 U.S. Opens, finishing sixth in 2004. He was runner-up at the 2008 U.S. Senior Open.

· Neal Lancaster of Smithfield, N.C., who tied for fourth at the 1995 U.S. Open, plays on the PGA and Nationwide Tours. He has played in three U.S. Opens and shares a U.S. Open record with Vijay Singh, shooting 29 for nine holes (second nine, fourth round in 1995 and second nine, second round in 1996).

Old Oaks Country Club / Century Country Club (Purchase, N.Y.)

· Michael Allen of Scottsdale, Ariz., recently won the 2009 Senior PGA Championship in his first start as a 50-and-over player. He has played in five U.S. Opens, tying for 12th in 2001. He also is a former assistant pro at Winged Foot.

· Brad Faxon of Barrington, R.I., is a member of the PGA Tour who has played in 20 U.S. Opens. His best finishes came in 1989 and 1994, when he tied for 33rd. He played on the victorious 1983 USA Walker Cup team.

· Andrew Giuliani of New York, N.Y., is the son of former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani. A former member of the Duke University golf team, he earned the final qualifying spot at Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield, Conn.

· Andrew Svoboda of Larchmont, N.Y., finished 71st at last year’s U.S. Open after getting into the field as an alternate. He was a semifinalist at the 2004 U.S. Amateur and also played in the 2006 U.S. Open. Both of those events were at Winged Foot, where his parents are members and where he has won the club championship.

· French-born Jean Van de Velde of Dubai has played in two U.S. Opens, including a 45th-place finish in 2002 at Bethpage. He is best known for his runner-up finish at the 1999 British Open, losing in a three-man playoff to Paul Lawrie.

· Cameron Wilson, 16, of Rowayton, Conn., advanced to match play at the U.S. Junior Amateur in 2007 and 2008, and is the second-youngest golfer in sectional qualifying. He is one of three players under 17 to qualify for sectionals.

Brookside Golf and Country Club / The Lakes Golf and Country Club (Columbus, Ohio)

· Aaron Baddeley of Scottsdale, Ariz., is a PGA Tour member who was runner-up at the 1998 U.S. Junior Amateur, where he was the stroke-play medalist. He has played in four U.S. Opens, tying for 13th in 2007 and 29th in 2008.

· Chris DiMarco of Orlando, Fla., is a PGA Tour member who has played in eight U.S. Opens. He tied for ninth in 2004 – his best U.S. Open finish – and 24th in 2002 at Bethpage.

· David Duval of Denver, Colo., is a PGA Tour member who has played in 14 U.S. Opens, tying for seventh in 1998 and 1999. He won the 1989 U.S. Junior Amateur and was a member of the winning 1991 USA Walker Cup team.

· Steve Flesch of Union, Ky., is a PGA Tour member who has played in 10 U.S. Opens. He tied for 18th in 2002 at Bethpage and tied for seventh in 2004.

· J.B. Holmes of Campbellsville, Ky., is a member of the PGA Tour who has played in three U.S. Opens, tying for 48th in 2006. He was a USA Walker Cup team member in 2005 and played on the 2008 USA Ryder Cup team.

· Danny Lee of New Zealand won the 2008 U.S. Amateur. As an amateur, he won the 2009 Johnnie Walker Classic, a European Tour event. He has since turned professional and thus gave up his full exemption into the 2009 U.S. Open.

· Tom Lehman of Scottsdale, Ariz., is a member of the PGA and Champions Tour who has played in 16 U.S. Opens. He had four consecutive top-five finishes at the U.S. Open from 1995-98. He also won the 1996 British Open.

· Jack Newman of Des Moines, Iowa, is a member of the Michigan State University golf team who won the 2008 U.S. Amateur Public Links. As a result, he played in the 2009 Masters but failed to make the cut.

· Jose Maria Olazabal of Spain is a PGA Tour member who has played in 17 U.S. Opens and was recently chosen for induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame. A two-time Masters champion, he tied for eighth at the 1990 and 1991 U.S. Opens.

Germantown Country Club / Ridgeway Country Club (Memphis, Tenn.)

· Alex Cejka of Germany is a PGA Tour member who has played in three U.S. Opens, making the cut each time. He tied for 50th at the 1996 U.S. Open.

· John Daly of Dardanelle, Ark., currently plays on the European Tour but will be making his first PGA Tour appearance of the season at the St. Jude Championship, which begins June 11. He has played in 13 U.S. Opens, including in 2002 at Bethpage. His best finish came in 1996 when he tied for 27th. He won the 1991 PGA Championship as an alternate and claimed the British Open four years later.

· James Driscoll of Brookline, Mass., is a PGA Tour member who was runner-up at the 1995 U.S. Junior Amateur and the 2000 U.S. Amateur. He was a member of the 2001 USA Walker Cup team.

· Steve Elkington of Australia is a 10-time winner on the PGA Tour who has played in 12 U.S. Opens. He tied for 21st in 1989 and 1990. He also won the 1995 PGA Championship.

· Brian Gay of Windermere, Fla., is a PGA Tour member who has played in five U.S. Opens. He was a member of the victorious 1993 USA Walker Cup team.

· Jason Gore of Valencia, Calif., is a PGA Tour member who has played in three U.S. Opens. He tied for 49th at the 2005 U.S. Open, where he played in Sunday’s final pairing with Retief Goosen, and was a member of the winning 1997 USA Walker Cup team.

· Paul Goydos of Coto de Caza, Calif., is a PGA Tour member who has played in nine U.S. Opens, tying for 12th in 1999. He failed to make the cut in 2002 at Bethpage.

· Tom Shaw of Franklin, Tenn., is the head golf coach at Vanderbilt University. A previous member of the PGA and Champions Tours, he has played in nine U.S. Opens and 12 U.S. Senior Opens.

· Scott Verplank of Edmond, Okla., is a five-time winner on the PGA Tour who has played in 17 U.S. Opens, including the past 11. He won the 1984 U.S. Amateur and was a member of the victorious 1985 USA Walker Cup team.

Northwood Club (Dallas, Texas)

· Olin Browne of Tequesta, Fla., is a PGA Tour member who has played in 11 U.S. Opens. He tied for fifth in 1997.

· Bronson Burgoon of Dallas, Texas, recently helped Texas A&M capture the team title at the 2009 NCAA Division I Championship. His victory in match play sealed the Aggies’ win over the University of Arkansas.


"The conversation went good shot, good shot, good shot"

Column highlights filed following Tiger's win at Memorial, starting with Helen Ross writing for

And Woods put on a clinic Sunday -- hitting all 14 fairways for the first time since he won at Bay Hill six years ago. In fact, he only missed the short grass seven times all week and his driving accuracy percentage of 87.5 equaled the best of his career.

"The conversation went good shot, good shot, good shot," said Michael Letzig, who got the up-close-and-personal view while paired with Woods on Sunday.

Woods' iron play was extremely sharp, as well. He hit 53 of 72 greens in regulation -- none as precise as the approach at the 72nd hole that stopped 14 inches from the pin and stamped the victory with an exclamation point.

Thomas Bonk on the win:

Forget all the fallout from Woods' perceived problems closing in his last three tournaments -- the Masters, Quail Hollow and the Players Championship -- this one was an instant classic. Now with 19 wins in his last 35 PGA Tour events, Woods is clearly back on track, and he's pleased with the timing.

Rex Hoggard notes this from Jack Nicklaus:

Just ask Nicklaus, perhaps the only man alive who can relate to Woods’ brilliance.

“If he drives the ball like that it won’t be a contest,” Nicklaus said. “Can you imagine, 14 of 14 fairways (hit) today, seven (missed) fairways all week. That’s pretty good...”

And Steve Elling adds this from the Golden Bear:

The host of the event, a guy with 18 major championships, was slack-jawed at Woods' performance and even made Woods blush during the trophy-presentation ceremony on the 18th green.

"Tiger, you're not known for hitting the ball straight, are you?" Jack Nicklaus said into the public-address system as thousands laughed and Woods pulled the cap down over his eyes.
Then the Golden Bear uttered the words that everybody was thinking: Woods, the defending U.S. Open champion who will seek his 15th major beginning June 18 on Long Island, has never seemed like a stronger pick.

"I suspect that No. 15 will come to Tiger Woods in about two weeks," Nicklaus said. "If he drives the ball this way, and plays this way, I'm sure it will. If not, it would surprise me greatly."
Thanks for saving me from having to state the obvious, Jack.

Bob Harig caught up with Hank Haney and quotes the vindicated instructor:

"I heard people on TV say he was lost," said Haney, who arrived for the final round Sunday. "How can anybody say he's lost? It makes no sense. I thought he deserved an opportunity to get himself back feeling good. It was a pretty serious injury [ACL reconstruction] for an athlete. And then you consider how long he was out of competition. This was a huge confidence boost for him."


"Comments that I made in a conversation with a writer last week regarding the importance of social media and tweeting have been taken out of context"

Randell Mell reports that the Brand Lady is in full retreat mode saying her "I'd love it if players Twittered during the middle of a round" remarks were taken out of context by Bloomberg's Michael Buteau and Mason Levinson.

Apparently the context was another value-engineered module not called the LPGA Tour. Happens all the time.

LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens released a statement saying she isn't advocating players use Twitter to communicate during rounds.

"Comments that I made in a conversation with a writer last week regarding the importance of social media and tweeting have been taken out of context," Bivens said. "We have not discussed tweeting or the use of handheld devices during tournament rounds with the USGA, or even within the LPGA, nor do we intend to. Our players will not be tweeting during the rounds of LPGA events.”

The statement created a stir amid questions about whether tweeting during rounds would violate the Rules of Golf.


“Although the effort may appear herculean at times"

John Branch looks at the last day of Bethpage public play and tries to explain the convoluted system for walk/drive up system. No offense to Branch who files a compelling piece, but I still don't get it.

Yet there is one way to ensure a time at Bethpage Black, a major-championship course with $50 fees during the week, $60 on weekends, and double that for non-New Yorkers: get to the parking lot and spend a night. Maybe two. Maybe more.

“Although the effort may appear herculean at times, and it may seem insane, you can play that golf course,” Dave Catalano, the director of Bethpage State Park, said.

The overflow lot is a roofless waiting room of tedium and nervous energy. The lure on this day was to be among the last civilians to play the course under the brutal conditions that Tiger Woods and the gang will soon endure: slivers of fairways surrounded by choking rough and punctuated by glass-quick greens. Hulking grandstands were in place, and it took little imagination to fill them.


Tiger Moves To Fourth In FedEx Cup Standings; Haney's Job Status Seems Safe For Now

Naturally the subject came up after the finale of the Memorial where Tiger picked up a much-needed 500 points.

Q. Tiger, after Augusta most of us had Hank Haney on the unemployment line. Can you talk about what Hank does for you, especially with the changes in your swing and how maybe we were like maybe misguided in some way in running that.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, you guys jumped the gun on that one. You know, Hank's been just absolutely phenomenal for my game and helped me through a lot. We work great together. And just like he and I understand. I mean, give me a little bit of time.

You know, most guys, when they have a surgery like that, it takes them a little bit longer to come back. People expected me to go out and win everything I played in. Maybe I'll just surprise everyone by winning a third event. I just think that Hank's been just phenomenal for my game and my development. He's one of my best friends.


"I'm sure he answered a lot of questions today."

Jim Furyk, runner up to Tiger at the Memorial, after a mightily impressive final round showing and with some transcript fine-tuning:

Q. Jim, after Charlotte and the players, Tiger wasn't really himself in those last rounds. Do you feel that there was like a vulnerability about him, or was that it?

JIM FURYK: I wish you'd all quit piecing him off. That's about all I have to say about that. Wish you'd just quit chapping him so much and make him come back and keep proving stuff.
I don't think -- you know, Tiger woods is always Tiger woods. He can't be 100% every week, but I'm sure he answered a lot of questions today.


"I'm able to get my ball count up"

While Mark Wilson and Matt Bettencourt are leading the Memorial, the focus is on all of the big names rounding into form for the U.S. Open.

Bob Harig reports that Tiger shed some new light on his knee breakdown last year.

A year ago, Woods was among the few who knew that his season was in peril. He had hoped to play the Memorial Tournament following arthroscopic knee surgery just two days after the Masters, but he learned a week before this tournament in 2008 that he had suffered stress fractures in his left leg.

"I practiced way too hard to get ready for this event," he said. "That's when I broke it."

Steve Elling says that Tiger's practices have been more limited than we originally thought:

Only in the past few weeks has Woods been able to bash balls as often as ever, because he didn't want to overstress the knee. He has only recently stopped icing the knee after rounds and instead has been able to adjourn to the range, where he can get post-round work done. Up until last month, he hadn't been able to practice after playing for two years because of his sore knee.

"I'm able to get my ball count up," he said.

Now maybe he can get his win count up, too.

Woods is gradually sneaking up on his standard form, having hit 35 of 42 fairways and 40 of 54 greens, which both rank in the top eight in the field. After starting the day tied for 24th, he moved up to a four-way tie for seventh in a group that includes Ernie Els.

Elling also reports on Geoff Ogilvy's amazing 63 Saturday after his dreadful performance Friday.

"Spend an hour taking out your aggression on a golf ball," he smiled. "It's quality alone time, Geoff time."

It might be Geoff time on Sunday night at this rate, when one Jack W. Nicklaus might be handing him a fat check and a shiny crystal trophy. Ogilvy, who won the U.S. Open three years ago, has already won the season-opener and match-play events, tying him with Zach Johnson and Phil Mickelson for most wins this season.

His results of late have been largely middling, though Friday skewed more toward largely maddening.

"I woke up on the wrong side of the bed," he said. "Everything was getting to me. One of those days."

He took the sour disposition to work, too.

"I don't like carrying on like I did at times yesterday," said Ogilvy, one of the brightest players on tour. "It must have looked silly."


"Golf is on sale"

There's no groundbreaking material in this CBS Evening News story about the state of golf. It focuses on the world renowned Hamlet Club on Long Island includes the usual talk of golf having been overbuilt. Yes, overbuilt with junk designs.


British Working Press Swooning Over Captain Pavin

Bill Elliot coos:

Corey Pavin, America's skipper, has been in Gwent for several days, playing and meeting and greeting and generally spreading the word that the Yanks are beside themselves with excitement at the prospect of visiting Wales. The little man – Pavin has the build of a jumps jockey – has done a very good job too. Patient, friendly, approachable and articulate, he has impressed many, a natural American abroad in this new Obama world.

Mark Reason is in love:

At his rather silly inauguration Pavin looked like Charlie Chaplin surrounded by a sexy chorus-line dressed in Santa costumes. Head-on you see a man who doesn't break eye contact. Pavin may be little in terms of the modern golfer, but he clearly thinks he's the CEO.

John Huggan merely admires:

Pavin certainly deserves respect, if only for his own record wearing a Ryder Cup sweater. Indeed, just a look at the numbers – in three appearances he played 13 matches, winning eight and losing five – isn't really enough. Back in the early 1990s, Pavin was the guy no-one wanted to play. Standing on the 18th green as dusk fell on the second day of the 1995 matches at Oak Hill, Nick Faldo certainly feared the worst as the then US Open champion settled over the match-deciding chip he would subsequently hole from the edge of the putting surface. "I had a strong sense that, yeah, this is right up his street," says the six-time major champion. "In those days, Corey had that special thing."


Scioto Wants 2017 PGA

Dave Shedloski reports:

According to one Scioto CC official, Scioto is putting in a bid to host the 2017 edition, and although the course itself sits on approximately 120 acres, there is sufficient room around the rest of the property, including a mammoth driving range, for all of the hospitality tents and structures that come with hosting a major championship.


Oakmont Confirmed For 2016 U.S. Open**

Gerry Dulac breaks the news, with more promised in tomorrow's edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


"These [current] guys have never hit fliers in their lives."

Steve Elling looks at Jack Nicklaus's endorsement of the groove rule change after initially dismissing the grooves rollback as "throwing a deck chair off the Titanic."

Nicklaus said he had a lively conversation on that subject with a fairly decorated fellow traveler, Tom Watson, at a tournament function this week, in fact.

"Watson was saying last night that he had been fiddling around with some new clubs and played with them most this year, actually, with the new grooves," Nicklaus said. "He said, 'Man, did I hit some fliers last week.'

"These [current] guys have never hit fliers in their lives. They are going to say, 'I don’t want to do that anymore. I am going to hit the ball in the fairway.' Or they are going to have to learn how to play fliers."


"Harder to bear, however, will be the dent to his pride."

Lawrence Donegan fleshes out more details on the delays with Tiger Woods' Al Ruwaya project, which he says will "not open this autumn and has been pushed back to 2010 or even later," amid claims that the real estate element of the project will be delayed indefinitely.

He also offers this conclusion about Woods:

A long-time aficionado of golf course architecture, as well as a fierce guardian of his image, he will not be happy to have his name or his first foray into the field of course design associated with anything less than an unqualified success. Even if the global economy does eventually recover, it will be some time before Dubai restores its reputation as the coming destination for the newly wealthy.


"I happen to think that a course is up to Ryder Cup standard if the ninth green comes back somewhere close to the clubhouse."

John Huggan examines why Europe puts their Ryder Cup venue selection "up for sale to the highest bidder" and obtains this beautiful quote from European Tour head George O'Grady.

"I don't think the Ryder Cup has to be played on the greatest course in the world," says O'Grady, only a little defensively. "Look at the Belfry, where there have been some great Ryder Cup matches. I happen to think that a course is up to Ryder Cup standard if the ninth green comes back somewhere close to the clubhouse."


"We could be looking at a performance for the ages."

John Hawkins considers the possibilities when Phil Mickelson returns to Bethpage and concludes:

Now we're talking about a turbo-charged atmosphere unlike any we've seen, an amplified version of the competitive environment Lefty has always thrived in. If he's sharp enough to take advantage of the support and draw on the inspiration he finds in his wife, we could be looking at a performance for the ages.

There are only a dozen or so players capable of shooting par at Bethpage over the course of four grueling days, and Mickelson obviously is one of them. His return is a big deal for several reasons, his presence at the U.S. Open a storyline with depth and numerous potentially positive ramifications. For him to play well enough to contend would be a terrific bonus. It's the kind of thing you'd be silly to count on but really, really hope will happen.