I spent some time last week with Nathaniel Crosby--Bing's son, the '81 U.S. Amateur winner--for an upcoming story. He used to play in the Junior World Championships at Torrey Pines, which my fellow typist Alan Shipnuck wrote about so colorfully for this week's U.S. Open preview issue. One year Crosby went with his father, who was intent on getting a picture of . . . junior sensation Bobby Clampett.
In any event, Nathaniel was talking about dark-horse choices who could win the U.S. Open at Torrey, and he mentioned the name Jose Maria Olazabal "if he's in the field." He's won the San Diego Open at Torrey Pines, he's great with the irons and he's a fantastic scrambler who is overdue to play well in the U.S. Open
I looked it up, and Crosby's caveat turned out to be the most important part of his prediction. Olazabal is not in the Open. There are a bunch of ways to qualify, or be invited, but he didn't make it. Which is a shame, because I agree with Nathaniel, he would have been a great longshot. Also, to see him in the U.S. in a Ryder Cup year--and he still has to be considered a viable Ryder Cup player--would be a treat. And because he's handled the ups and downs of his career and his injuries with more class than one can hardly imagine.
He started young and played hard and is probably near the end. If the exemptions were mine to give out, Jose Maria Olazabal would have been high on my list. Who would you invite?