TIGER'S MESSAGE AND MOTIVATION
Gorant: Tiger sent out a congratulatory message that made it clear he was watching the tournament. Do you think seeing Rory decimate the field and hearing all the endless comparisons to himself fired Woods up? Is he more motivated to get back out there and show the pack who the real alpha dog is?
Shipnuck: Oh, Tiger's definitely fired up. As the kids say, Game respect game.
Godich: This will motivate Tiger. Loved how he ended the note by telling Rory to enjoy it. No secret what Tiger was saying there.
Garrity: Tiger may be fired up, but he'll be doing himself a favor if he douses that fire until he's fit to play again.
Evans: This week might mark the passing of the guard. Yet that seems silly to say about a man who is just 35 years old. Tiger is going to be a contender for a long time. A contender, not the main man.
Walker: It was nice of Tiger to send a note, but I don't think McIlroy or any of the top players are paying that much attention to him.
Herre: Tiger's alpha dog days are over. They ended on Masters Sunday when he was passed like he was standing still. It was gracious and appropriate of him to send congrats on this big day for golf.
Morfit: With the emergence of McIlroy as a winning, identifiable new star, Woods has seldom seemed more irrelevant. I am already missing him a whole lot less than I was just four days ago.
Dusek: Tiger is a lot of things, and near the top of the list is "competitor." Seeing Rory rock Congressional, we can assume Tiger has got to be itching to get back into the game.
Wei: Tiger has more important things to worry about right now, like getting healthy.
THE USGA'S SETUP
Gorant: Did the USGA pull back too much, or did they get burned by unfortunate circumstances? They had to water early in the week to counteract last week's heat wave, and then it rained every day during the tournament.
Godich: The USGA did nothing wrong. What's not to like about the shot-making we saw from Rory and others? These guys are good.
Shipnuck: It's been trending in this direction, and then the rain made the course defenseless. David Love said the last three U.S. Opens have been "fun." Sorry, but the Open should never be fun. It should push the players to the breaking point. Where's Oakmont or Winged Foot when you really 'em?
Morfit: Something went horribly wrong with the course setup. Twenty players finished under par. I know it rained, but isn't that what the SubAir system is for? The 2011 U.S. Open was just like the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock, only the USGA lost the course in the other direction.
Garrity: They had no choice. They nearly lost the greens playing it safe; if they had tried to push them to the planned-for firmness, it would have been worse than Shinnecock. As one of the greenkeeper guys told me, "The roots are just laying there. They're not looking for water."
Morfit: The first tee was largely dirt and mud, which was odd to stand on and look at. It looked like Wimbledon's center court after two weeks of play.
Van Sickle: Besides some angry old ex-Open champions who complained, what's wrong with seeing some birdies and occasional eagles? Take Rory out of the mix and eight under is the winning score. Nothing wrong with that. And I don't consider watching guys hack it out sideways back to the fairway a true test of golf. If the USGA erred on the side of keeping the course a little too player-friendly, I think that's better than the alternative of making it so difficult that it negates skill, which was the misguided blueprint of Opens long past.
Garrity: The SubAir is great for quickly expelling excess rainwater, but it takes time to dry out the top three inches. That never happened because the storms were spaced pretty evenly. Ditto for the rough, which was battered by two weeks of heat and humidity, and now an already heavy soil is saturated. No growth.
Evans: It was too fair. What's the point of making a big deal out of the national championship if the course has to be playable and fair like every other event?
Herre: Even the USGA can't control Mother Nature. Yes, the course was soft, but so what? This wasn't the first Open to be played under these conditions, and with the severe contours on some of the greens, we got to see some really creative short-game shot-making, which is not always the case in this championship.
Shipnuck: The other three majors can showcase shotmaking. I want carnage at my national championship.
Dusek: I don't think there was much the USGA could have done differently. The timing of the rain, the lack of wind and the type of soil around here meant scoring conditions were pretty good and the greens were going to be receptive. But honestly, I liked seeing birdies in the U.S. Open. Players seemed to like the setup too.
Garrity: Hard to argue with this week's top 10, which had three major champions, a couple of rising stars, and Lee Westwood, recently No. 1 in the world. If the USGA is trying to identify champions, they did a good job this week.