Hot this week? McDowell, Pebble and Miyazato. Not? Tiger, Phil and Ernie

Hot this week? McDowell, Pebble and Miyazato. Not? Tiger, Phil and Ernie

Graeme McDowell survived a treacherous Pebble layout to win his first major championship.
Robert Beck/SI


1. G-Mac. Winning the U.S. Open is a big deal in and of itself, but what a refreshing character this guy is: smart, blunt, down-to-earth, and funny, too. Plus, now I have a reason to go back to Royal Portrush.

2. Pebble Beach. Barely 7,000 yards, with very playable rough, it was still a superb test and the vistas — especially in HD, and especially in the twilight — made for nothing less than golf porn.

3. European golf. The bizarre 40-year drought at the U.S. Open is over, another star has been minted, and this week’s BMW International has a stronger field than Hartford. Oh, and the Open at the Old Course is likely to be the highlight of the summer. Take that, Finchem.

4. Ai Miyazato. The most dominant player in golf this minute won for a fourth time in the last few months and seized the top spot in the world ranking. Bonus points for those cool knee-high socks.

5. Gregory Havret. Yes, that putt on the 72nd hole was a little timid, but he played the best golf of any of the contenders on Sunday and displayed a Frenchy’s poetic soul. “Of course I’m disappointed,” he said when it was all over, “because I was so close to heaven.”


1. Dustin Johnson. His on-course demeanor has always reminded me of Retief Goosen. What else do they have in common? Both have now shot in the 80’s as the 54-hole leader at the Open. Johnson has tantalizing potential, but Goose is a cautionary tale — he has never recovered from his self-immolation at Pinehurst five years ago.

2. Phil. Right now we should have Slam fever, but Mickelson squandered a golden opportunity with loose play, which included five balls in the hazard over four rounds and four three-putts on the weekend. But it sure is fun to have him in contention at every major, and it will be a blast to see what he can do at the Old Course.

3. Tiger. That back-nine 31 on Saturday was vintage magic, but he looked ordinary at best when it really mattered, on Sunday. For those scoring at home, that’s now three majors in a row with shaky final rounds.

4. Ernie. You knew it was coming, but the dénouement was still a stunner: not one but two balls in the hazard on the same hole. He has won three majors but now has 28 other top-10s. That’s an awful lot of scar tissue.

5. Pebble. Two greens need to be rebuilt before the next Open in ’19: The 14th, which has basically only one pin placement and repels many good shots, and the 17th, which is too tiny for such a long shot. Both are quirky fun for everyday play, when the course is softer, but they are too extreme during baked-out Open conditions. But, hey, even Marilyn Monroe had a mole on her face.