As each year goes by I fear the true sporting spirit of match play is less and less in evidence. We find a growing disposition for play to concentrate on the figures that are registered at a hole rather than on the question of whether the hole is lost or won in a purely friendly match.
Mark Herrmann believes the Black course would make a great Ryder Cup venue and gets no major disagreement from the PGA.
Long Islanders should not hold their breath, or make sure they take a really deep breath. The next time the Ryder Cup - the biennial competition between the United States and Europe - has an opening on U.S. soil is 2024. And there are other huge hurdles, such as navigating the sensitive terrain between the U.S. Golf Association, which holds the U.S. Open, and the PGA of America (not to be confused with the PGA Tour).
The topic was raised, though, by U.S. Ryder Cup veterans Phil Mickelson and David Duval, who were buoyed by the crowds at the Open. Both said the Black would be a natural for the international electricity. Mickelson called it "an ideal spot" and Duval said, "Now that would be a heck of an idea."
I can't think of a worse venue than Bethpage. The fans are obnoxious to Americans, how would they treat the European squad?
Mark Herrmann reports that the radio voice of golf is a marked man for daring to correctly pick Lucas Glover to win the U.S. Open. What'd disturbing is how many Irishmen listened!
Paddy Power, a legal betting firm, lost the equivalent of $1.6 million because Bubka's prediction had set off "a betting frenzy," according to the Irish Times and other media outlets in Ireland.
The odds on Glover, 29, who had won one PGA Tour event and never had made the cut in a U.S. Open, had been 175-1 before Bubka appeared on Newstalk radio Wednesday night, June 17. After he mentioned Glover as the favorite, the odds had dropped to 11-8 by Monday, June 22, the final day of the Open.
This is beautiful...
A spokesman for Paddy Power told Ireland's TalkSport radio, "We're hoping Bob gets a bad case of laryngitis the week before the British Open and keeps his mouth shut."
Bubka does not have a favorite yet for the British Open. But he did say he had picked Angel Cabrera to win the Masters this year, too.
Just to show you how current I am, here's Jeff Silverman and John Garrity's SI preview piece on the WPA and Bethpage. I just read it again and couldn't get over this FDR anecdote.
Whitten better add this to the next Architects of Golf!
"He loved playing golf more than just about anything else," says H.W. Brands, author of Roosevelt, Traitor to His Class. FDR even kept an old golf ball on his desk in the Oval Office. "I believe that his inability to play made the game even more important to him, and he liked the idea that the government could make it possible for ordinary people to play."
No ordinary man himself, Roosevelt gained deep insight into the sufferings of others through his own transformative struggle with polio — the humbling midlife counterpoint to the ease and privilege into which he was born. He was eight when his father had a six-hole course built on the family's Hyde Park, N.Y., estate, and by his early teens Franklin was shooting in the low 80s. In 1899, as secretary-treasurer of the nine-hole club on Campobello, the island playground for the wealthy off the coast of Maine, he designed and supervised the enlargement of tees and greens. Fresh out of Harvard in 1904, he won the club championship. No golfing president can top that.
I haven't seen it written anywhere--not that I've read everything posted on the 2009 U.S. Open--but reader Ace noticed that Lucas Glover never managed to hit a greenside bunker last week. And of course he double bogeyed his first hole of the week. Bizzarre.
Bob Verdi writes:
It was a good Monday to rob a bank in New York, if indeed there are any banks left in New York. But it was an even better day for golf as thousands of deep throats converged on Bethpage Black, although not specifically to be heard supporting Lucas Glover.
What were Glover's first words to his 44-year-old caddie during that embrace after his par putt dropped and the U.S. Open was his?
"You owe me a Corvette."
It's an old joke between them, dating back to when Cooper told Glover after his first PGA Tour victory at Disney in 2005 that the next time they win a tournament he was going to buy Glover a Corvette. That was before General Motors went bankrupt, and the caddie is considering renegotiating.
"I'll leave that to him," Glover said. "I'm not going to hold him to it unless he just wants to. But it was the first thing that popped into my head after that putt went in. I saw Coop standing there and said. 'You owe me, pal.' "
"They made it choke-proof," he said. "I have 10-handicappers who I'd trust with a two-shot lead on that hole." Cowan said his students on the lesson tee Tuesday morning shared his opinion. Of the USGA's setup, he said, "It was a local disgrace."
The best fans in the world! Uninformed, unenlightened and yet so graceful delivering their insights!
Well, maybe some of them are some of the time. But you do have to wonder when an inoffensive and genuinely pleasant individual like Wisconsin native Steve Stricker is greeted with an unprovoked obscenity: "Hey Stricker, f--- your mother!" Memo to PGA of America: never, ever think of bringing a Ryder Cup to the public face of golf in New York.
And Derek Lawrenson left with newfound respect for Phil Mickelson after watching him host a late night autograph session.
John Hawkins' Golf World game story almost pulls a Cloyce Windham on us (obscure literary reference...) but does actually tell us about the guy who won.
Jaime Diaz looks at Phil Mickelson's week and talks to those around him.
Because they played the ball down, Michael Bamberger just loves the USGA's handling of the week at Bethpage, putting him in select company!
Evan Rothman gets on Deepdale and for a few days anyway, is glad not to be a public course golfer celebrating the People's Open.
Dottie Pepper thinks the back-to-back Opens at Pinehurst will be super-duper. We'll see if she agrees after two weeks in Pinehurst.
And Bill Fields shares his thoughts from Bethpage and offers this:
Architect Rees Jones, who renovated the Black course before the '02 Open, wondered if covering the greens with tarps to keep rain from softening them was the solution. "I would love to see them use tarps," said Jones, whose dad, Robert Trent Jones Sr., had encouraged the USGA to use fairway gallery ropes for the first time in the 1954 Open at Baltusrol so the rough wouldn't get tamped down by spectators. "The greens would be in the same condition for every player in the field. Now that Opens are so big, maybe we could do it. It would be a big undertaking, but it might take less time to put the tarp on and off than it does to squeegee them. I'd like to protect the setup like my father did in 1954."
"We talked about it in 2002," Currier said. "If you knew you were going to have a heavy rainfall at night, it might be something you could try. But we got caught in a couple of downpours [during play] this week—we wouldn't have had time to get tarps on them, and it really wouldn't have mattered."
But it would be Rees' legacy, Craig!
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.
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.