As usual, I didn't watch much of the U.S. Open until Sunday afternoon. I know what I missed. Player misses fairway, player hacks out, player chips on, misses or makes putt. Whatever. Yawn, with a capital "AW."
I always try to catch the last nine holes, though, and this year I didn't even manage to see all of them. I had to fly to Minneapolis with two of my sons at just the wrong time. I can hear the more cynical of you after that last sentence and my answer to your question is this: Yes there is a right time to fly to Minneapolis and it's right about now.
It's a lousy time to be in Dallas, or Tulsa for that matter. Anyone who is daft enough to play golf in this kind of weather is a masochist. I caught a glimpse of Tim Herron last week, who looked like he was wishing he was in Minnesota. His pants were holding so much salt water, I wouldn't have been surprised if he had kelp growing out of his shorts. In the summer months, give me Minnesota any day.
In this month's issue of GOLF Magazine there is an interesting nugget from the almost completely insane Sal Johnson of Golfstats. Now, I'm not normally one for statistics, but Salaprop, as I like to call him, does have terrific nuggets. Not everybody knows that.
Sal crunched his nuggets, and ranked the four majors to reveal which of them produces the highest quality winners. If you haven't been to the dentist this month or you're too cheap to buy the magazine, the winner was The Masters, followed by the Open Championship (you call it the British Open), then the PGA, and dead last, the U.S. Open.
This is exactly what I would have guessed, but then again, as most of you know, I'm a genius. The question that strikes me is this: If the U.S. Open is the sternest test of golf on the planet, why is it the easiest of the four to win? The answer of course is that it isn't the sternest test of golf, it's just the sternest test of driving. You miss a fairway, you're screwed and that brings everybody, regardless of his ability, down to the same level. Having said that, I do think the USGA has done a much better job of setting up the golf course for the last three years.
The thing is, there's more to golf than hitting fairways, as The Masters and the Open Championship show us almost every year. To further illustrate my brilliant hypothesis, with which I have no doubt everyone will agree, at the '99 Open Championship at Carnoustie, for some reason the R&A allowed the superintendent to become a celebrity and the idiot went and set the course up like a U.S. Open venue. We all know what happened there. Hell, I didn't know half the people in the top 10!
At both The Masters and the British Open there is much more emphasis on how much imagination a player has, and there are many more opportunities for him to use it. Every lie has to be judged for speed, and every short shot is different.
It's rare to see a player chop out sideways, and if you have the talent, you have the chance. That's why I think both events are more fun to watch. I have to admit, I did watch a little more of the U.S. Open than I stated at the top of this piece, and I thought the guys at NBC did a great job.
It's a very tough event to comment upon at times, because there is so much of the same stuff going on. I sometimes disagree with Johnny Miller (and I know you find that hard to believe) but he was all over it, as was Roger Maltbie, whom I tortured with voicemails all week. I love to see a fat announcer suffer, just like moi.
Right now I am suffering. I'm on a flight to La Guardia with my two youngest sons, who are spending a week on the road with Dad. We're visiting six cities in seven days, which seemed like a brilliant idea a few weeks ago.
Rory is wearing headphones, and reading a book entitled, "Captain Underpants and The Attack of the Killer Toilets." I think it's a love story. He is laughing hysterically and doesn't know how loud he is. Shey had two cheeseburgers before we boarded and has cut the cheese several times already.
He's acting casual but his dad knows it's him. The elderly lady across the aisle thinks it's his dad and has been flashing me dirty looks, turning on her air, and fanning herself with a copy of American Way. It's okay, though, I just got her with my standard attack/defense. I looked up from my laptop and said to her in a very loud voice, "Don't worry ma'am, everybody thinks it was me!"
It's going to be a long week.