PGA Tour Confidential: Our U.S. Open predictions

Phil Mickelson
Andy Lyons / Getty Images
Four days before the start of the U.S. Open, Phil Mickelson tied for second at the St. Jude Classic.

6. Jack Nicklaus likely established the trend of skipping the event preceding a major, for work, rest and scouting. Tiger obviously agrees, Phil doesn't. It seemed that when Westchester was played the week before the U.S. Open, it was the perfect tune-up. However, Memphis is such a physical grind -- witness all the swamp-ass. Is it a mistake to play it the week before the grueling test of our national championship?

Van Sickle: With a course like Merion, the only mistake to be made was not spending a couple of days there checking it out at some point. If you were looking for your game, playing Memphis was a good idea, just not at the expense of not seeing Merion early.

Shipnuck: I think so -- it'll take these guys a couple of days to rehydrate and recover. Not to mention the dry cleaning bills on all their trousers…

Gorant: If it's not too much for Phil, who will turn 43 on Sunday and is slowed by arthritis, it's not too much. These guys almost all live in warm-weather states and they play tons of golf. Four rounds in Memphis, with a few days to recover, isn't gonna hurt them.

Passov: If it were 95 degrees and 100 percent humidity, as it usually is in Memphis, I would skip the event. Westchester at least offered the same weather, grasses, narrow fairways and small greens as most northeastern/Midwestern U.S. Open venues, which made it a logical tune-up. If the venue -- or weather -- is a likely beat-down, I can't see why you'd tee it up that week, knowing the grueling conditions that undoubtedly await the following week.

Ritter: Hard to say what's best for everyone, but Tiger has three U.S. Open titles while Phil has ... five runner-ups.

Lynch: Only if you play terribly. Playing right before a major is such an individual preference but sometimes what happens the week before materially affects what happens at the Open. Ray Floyd choked away Westchester in 1986 and on the drive to Shinnecock Hills for that year's Open he had a furious argument with his wife Maria, who demanded that he face up to what had gone wrong and how he would handle it differently next time. We know how that turned out.

O'Donoghue: It's horses for courses. Players prepare in different ways. Yes, a lot of them take a leaf out of Jack's book, who took a leaf out of Hogan's when it came to studied analysis of a major venue in the week preceding the championship. Most players play their way into a major.

Bamberger: You can't say. It's such an individual decision. In my fantasy life, if I had a spot in a U.S. Open field, I would hang out and play the course with nobody around the week before. Especially when the Open is at Merion (once every generation or so) or Pebble (more often than that).

7. Inbee Park won the LPGA Championship in a playoff over Catriona Matthew. Now that the LPGA has five majors should at least one have a scheduled 36-hole finale to make it a more distinctive test?

Shipnuck: Absolutely! The point of major championships is to separate the best from the rest. A 36-hole finale pushes players to the breaking point, physically and mentally.

O'Donoghue: Not a bad idea! 36 holes brings the cream to the top in a major. The grind gets to most and a class golfer who has experience and desire usually puts themselves into the mix, as was proven at Wegmans.

Gorant: They should go back to that funky, multi-cut, eight-man Sunday shootout they used to have for their Tour Championship. It was the only good thing to come out of the Carolyn Bivens era.

Lynch: The LPGA -- like the Champions Tour -- should ask fans to name all five majors, then drop the events that are unknown to a majority. Instead of 36 holes of what we see every week, why not opt for a pairs event? Not based on nationality but on buddies, as grand slam doubles is played in tennis.

Passov: No one watches -- except me -- when it's 18 holes, so I don't know why anyone would care any more if it were 36.

Van Sickle: I don't think the public identifies with a 36-hole finale anymore. That went out with Ken Venturi at the 1964 Open. Making one of the LPGA majors a 36-hole windup might get a little more attention but it probably still wouldn't get as much press as their 12-hole rounds in the Bahamas. The biggest attention the LPGA could get globally would be to move one of its U.S.-based majors to Japan or Korea, where women's golf is huge. That would be gigantic. Not here, but it would be gigantic.

Ritter: The LPGA should do whatever it can to add intrigue to its schedule, and a 36-hole final at a major is as good an idea as any. The LPGA was a nice finish on Sunday, and for its final hour it didn't have to compete with the St. Jude for viewers.

Bamberger: The LPGA does not have five majors. It has four: Dinah, U.S. Open, British Open, PGA Championship. Four excellent events. You cannot push a fifth major down our throats.

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