• The shot of the year, for men and women, is no doubt So Yeon Ryu’s 170-yard 6-iron on her 72nd hole to eight feet. You can’t get more pressure: last hole of the U.S. Open, needing a birdie to force a playoff. Then she rams the putt dead-center. This young woman has serious game.
Michelle Wie should talk to Ryu, who is a college student in South Korea, about going to school while playing professional golf. Wie, who attends Stanford, finished 15 over and tied for 55th.
• Yani Tseng is as good as the hype. Yes, she finished 17th, but she was as high-strung as she’s ever been at a tour event (“She’s a big ball of muscle here,” said Jason Hamilton, her caddie). She putted horribly and was 69th of 72 players in driving accuracy. Tseng will win many more majors, including a U.S. Open, and soon.
Tseng isn’t flashy with her cash, but she has begun dabbling in art to decorate her Spartan house at Lake Nona in Orlando. While in Singapore for a tournament last winter, she bought a $25,000 painting and a set of three little sculptures (figures in Tai Chi poses) for $15,000.
• The runner-up, Hee Kyung Seo, was a moping mess all year until she got to the Open. Two weeks ago at the LPGA Championship, she was so down on herself that she went a whole round without saying a word to her caddie. That caused her teacher, Steve McRae, to go into red-alert mode. He worked with his charge for several days before the tournament began and stressed the need for her to relax and enjoy herself. He told herthat her swing was capable of winning an Open. On July 2 at the Broadmoor, McRae showed Seo video of her swing, which was balanced, rhythmic and had a newly acquired 90-degree pivot in the backswing. All the work to improve Seo’s attitude crystallized in a moment.
“Looks good, just like you want, right?” McRae said to Seo.
Silence. Then, sheepishly, Seo admitted, “Well, yeah, that does look good.”
• It was beautiful to see scores of Korean players, led by Se Ri Pak, watching the playoff and then running onto the green to spray champagne on the winner. The Koreans are so tight and supportive, they would’ve celebrated for any of their peers.
• Watching Cristie Kerr play isn’t much fun. She yells at her ball (somethimes quite rudely) so often that it reminds me of all the grunting in women’s tennis.
• Mika Miyazato’s announcement that she’s donating all of her 2011 major tournament winnings to the Red Cross for Japan earthquake relief was another example of how generous tour players are. Granted, Miyazato earns seven figures, but still: imagine if everybody who could afford it was so philanthropic?
• Young Americans Lizette Salas (T15th) and Ryann O’Toole (ninth) had breakout performances and could be contenders for Solheim Cup captain’s picks. They both have cocky but composed attitudes and solid games.
• One has to wonder why the USGA scheduled an Open at the Broadmoor in the middle of the area’s monsoon season. This time of year, multiple delays and a Monday (or later) finish are almost guaranteed.