3. Phil Mickelson’s seeking the career slam made Pinehurst one of the most anticipated majors in year. What went wrong for Mickelson, and do you think he’ll ever win the U.S. Open?
MORFIT: Phil admitted he saw so many of his putts miss the hole in the first two rounds he started to lose interest in the rest of his game. The stats back him up here. He hit his fewest number of greens, eight, in the third round, and his fewest number of fairways, five, in the fourth.
SHIPNUCK: He picked the wrong time to get the yips. It's particularly frustrating because last year was one of the best he's ever had with the putter. I think he'll figure out the putting to some degree, but at 44 there's a lot of scar tissue there. If Mickelson can continue to drive the ball this well, he'll remain dangerous at the Open, but it's getting harder and harder to believe he'll ever win one.
MARKSBURY: I think Phil had way too much going on this week. The pressure of trying to win at the site of his first U.S. Open runner-up finish, the insider-trading allegations hanging over his head for the first half of the week, and the late change to the claw grip. That's a lot to handle during a major week. He said himself that he plays his best when no one expects him to, and although we didn't necessarily expect him to win this week, the pressure to perform was certainly there. And after Martin shot those back-to-back 65s, I'm sure he was pretty deflated.
GODICH: Phil hadn't shown much of a pulse coming in, so I'm not surprised by his finish. When he started to struggle on the back nine on Friday, I wondered whether he'd even make the cut. And we all know how this works with Phil. He'll bag his Open when we've all written him off and nobody sees it coming.
RITTER: Time for Phil to release the claw grip. He just didn't putt well at all this week, and that pretty much vaporized any chance he had of contending. Still have to believe he can win a U.S. Open -- he's less than a year removed from a major, and he's still one of the best U.S. Open players ever. Why not Chambers Bay next year?
LYNCH: He drove it lousy and putted poorly, which isn't a good combination in any major (see Tiger's results over the last few years). Phil's erratic driving can be navigated -- after all, the Phrankenwood won him the British Open less than a year ago -- but the passage of time is unsparingly brutal on streaky putters. He turns 44 today. I suspect Merion was his last great opportunity to win the national Open. Then again, I never thought he'd win a British Open.
PASSOV: Phil didn't play badly, but he didn't do enough right. By his admission, he threw away too many shots in the first two rounds. It was all phases of his game, not just putting. Yet even if he had played superbly, he might have been nowhere near Kaymer at the end. No reason to pick on Phil, specifically. No one challenged Kaymer.
SENS: Phil said it himself. His putting stroke felt poppy, which is Latin for "yippy." Anytime a guy goes to the claw, then away from the claw, in such quick succession, mid-event, take him to the miniature golf course as soon as you can and bet him for all he's worth. I don't expect him to ever win the U.S. Open, which means he probably will.
4. Did the newly restored Pinehurst No. 2 play easier than expected, tougher, or about the same? Does it deserve another U.S. Open sooner than later?
LYNCH: Pinehurst No. 2 deserves another Open, and will surely get it. But last week can't be a mere experiment for the USGA or a blueprint solely for Pinehurst Opens. It must signal a change in direction. The same imaginative use of firm and fast conditions ought to be employed at future USGA championships instead of reverting to ribbon fairways flanked by deep rough. Those conditions can easily be created at several upcoming venues -- Chambers Bay, Erin Hills, Shinnecock Hills and Pebble Beach -- if the will exists.
PASSOV: On Wednesday, I predicted that if it didn't rain too much, the winning score would be between 2-under and 2-over. Except for one guy, I nailed it. I also said if it rained and the course stayed soft, 6-under to 8-under would be required to win. So I came close. It played pretty much how I thought it would. Even with wider fairways than in 2005, no rough, easier-than-expected recoveries from the sandy scrub and soft greens on Thursday and Friday, in the end, Pinehurst played plenty tough. Only three players finished better than 1-over. With what Pinehurst showed the world about restoring a native look, helping the environment and the economics of the game, yet yielding a fair, option-laden test, it absolutely deserves another Open -- and soon.
SENS: Easier, but I'd say the restoration had less to do with that than the fact that with Women's Open up next, they couldn't let the greens bake out to the torturous degree that might otherwise have. And for the sake of history, variety and the particular kind of punishment it inflicts, yeah, bring another one here sooner than later.
RITTER: It played exactly to expectations … for 155 of the 156 players in the field. One under par won the B-flight. I enjoyed Pinehurst's lack of rough and all the unpredictable lies from the sandy areas. Kaymer's Saturday escape from the scrub on the 5th hole was the shot of the tournament. I'm okay with the Open returning there in another 7-10 years.
SHIPNUCK: It was interesting to see how aggressive players were from the waste areas -- seemed like almost every time they had a go at the green. But the cost for missing the fairway was statistically almost exactly the same as in the previous two Opens, so controlling the ball from those lies was another matter. Because the course played so fast, it played short, and I think that's why more scored under par. But Pinehurst was a fascinating test and clearly cemented its place in the Open rota.
GODICH: Considering the best score after Kaymer was one under par, I'd say No. 2 played about as difficult as the USGA wanted it. I did expect to see more of a penalty for putting the ball in the native areas. It sure seemed like a lot of players got a lot of clean looks when they missed the fairway. It's hard to believe that Pinehurst didn't host its first Open until 1999. Great venue. Great town. The sooner the USGA goes back there, the better.
MORFIT: It played easier without the rough, and it was a perfect setup for Mickelson, if he'd just been able to make anything on the greens. As for when it should get another U.S. Open, I'd say sooner. It's a great golf town. One caveat: There's something wrong when a guy can miss a fairway way left, hit 7-iron to five feet, and make eagle, the way Kaymer did at the par-5 5th hole Saturday.
MARKSBURY: By the end of the final round, it looked like a perfect U.S. Open venue on the leaderboard. Only three guys under par? Pretty typical! Except one of those guys blew everyone away by eight shots. I certainly wouldn't say the course "played easy" because of that, though. Kaymer was rewarded for being far superior to the field. And he never made a double bogey! I still can't believe that! Still, Pinehurst No. 2 is not my favorite U.S. Open venue.