The USGA simply went too far this time. It packed muscle onto a course already plenty strong enough to defend itself. The organization always indicates its desire - it's "purpose" to use Combs' word - is to identify the best player. Not in the world, necessarily, but for the week of the U.S. Open examination. It's terrific, for my money, when a Cabrera or an Ogilvy or a Michael Campbell (even-par 280 at Pinehurst two years ago) wins the tournament. Anyone who bemoans Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson or some other superstar not winning all the time is missing the point.
Cabrera, by the way, was the only player in the field to break par twice. He beat Woods and Jim Furyk, runners-up a stroke back, three rounds out of four. Who was Oakmont's best player?
But the 10-over-par cut was absurd. And the weekend's treachery was best exemplified by that same 10-over-par finishing score, which at 290 ended up being good enough for a share of seventh place. That's not competition; it's attrition.
Douglas Lowe takes a more shallow approach, celebrating the sadistic pleasures and bellows on about the dreaded "integrity of par."
The integrity of par has taken a beating in recent years, if not decades. In bread-and-butter tournaments, par is nowhere near good enough and David Fay, executive director of the USGA, said: "All we want is for par on any of the 18 holes to mean something."
Wait, I thought he said they are not fixated on par?