2:51 | Tour & News
U.S. Open picks
Ryan Asselta and Sean Zak tell you who to pick and who to avoid for this year's U.S. Open at Shinnecock.
By Michael Bamberger
Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Ed. note: You won't catch our analog-minded senior writer Michael Bamberger on Twitter anytime soon. But that doesn't mean his mind's not full of tweet-ready material. In the second installment of our new series Stuff I Might Have Tweeted, our scribe reflects on a Monday evening walk at Shinnecock Hills, caddying for Brad Faxon and more. (We did not — and will not — limit him to 280 characters.)

1. Spent late Monday afternoon and evening at Shinnecock Hills. Or, as we're calling it in my house, British Open I.  

2. On Sunday, I had been at the Curtis Cup, at Quaker Ridge. The co-chair of the event, Beth Post, closed her remarks at a moving flag-lowering ceremony with these words to the players from the U.S. and GBI:

"Since many of you visited the 9/11 Memorial in New York City, I want to share this quote. After 9/11, speaking to a joint session of Congress, President George W. Bush said, 'The American people have no greater friends than the people of Great Britain and Ireland.' With all we read and watch in the news today, it is a joy to come together at an event as special as the Curtis Cup and be reminded that our great friendship still endures." About the most meaningful thing I have ever heard said at one of these things.

3. I caught Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker playing the last few holes, after 6 p.m. had come and gone. I saw a thought bubble above Tiger's hatted head that read, "Good course — but these fairways are so wide it's a joke."  

4. There were at most 300 people following Tiger by the end. So much fun. One was a club caddie, Eugene Smith, who works at National Golf Links in summer and winters at Seminole, where he once shot 61 (back tees). He was taping Tiger and beside himself with joy.  

5. At the 1986 Open at Shinnecock, I caddied for three practice rounds for Brad Faxon, who was an alternate. Wednesday night, still not in, he flew to Chattanooga and played the alternate event there, the Provident Classic, which he won with, as we say in the business, another caddie.  

6. I saw, in person, the tears in Ray Floyd's hard eyes when he won that year. Ray was on the green in '64 when Ken Venturi allegedly said, "My God, I've won the Open." Raymond never heard it, but he did pick Ken's ball out of the hole.  

7. Raymond — Raymond! — is a Shinnecock Hills member. He also owns a dairy farm in Vermont. I don't see Raymond driving a tractor but what do I know?  

8. I have a vintage, in the package 1986 Shinnecock Hills U.S. Open shirt, made by Pickering. Hard collar and a recent in-the-mail gift. It's a large that fits like a modern medium. There's been size deflation to soothe the ego.  

9. There's a suburban housing development of trailers on the course and beside Montauk Highway. One has a shingle marked Wellness Area offering these services, according to its shingle: Chiropractic Care, Message Therapy, Physical Therapy, Athletic Trainer, Hyperbaric Therapy, Normatec Recovery. For psychological or psychiatric services, you must go elsewhere.  

10. There were crews on the greens all Monday afternoon dousing the greens with water and leaving a residue of white foamy stuff and the hint of tire tracks. I'm sure the USGA is worried. Green moisture is a function of wind direction and strength. Green moisture has a mind of its own. If these greens are soft, the gents will kill it. Having firm, fast greens and difficult hole positions are the course's best defense mechanisms.  

11. In 1995, there were par-4s that played like par-5s. Corey Pavin hit driver, 4-wood into the par-4 18th to win. The par-5 is all but dead on the PGA Tour.  

12. Still, someone is going to shoot the lowest score for 72 holes here this week. It can only be great.

Michael Bamberger may be reached the old-fashioned way, at mbamberger0224@aol.com.

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