So after roughly 80 bazillion picks of who will/won’t/might/maybe contend at this week’s US Open at Shinnecock Hills, the winner was Brooks Koepka, otherwise known as the same guy who won last year.
But unfortunately, it wasn’t exactly a week of smooth sailing. Traffic (who knew that summer traffic in a summer destination was going to be an issue other than the millions of people who live/work/vacation in the area), course set-up, and a host of other issues got everyone riled up. Rather than offer my opinions, I’m ceding the floor to Golf Twitter to argue the issues of the week.
Issue: Phil Mickelson’s attempt at playing polo on 13 on Saturday was a disgrace and he should have been DQ on the spot and drawn & quartered. Or he was making a comment about the course conditions. Let’s go to the evidence.
For: He deliberately hit a moving ball to keep it from running off the green!
Against: The USGA gave him a 2-stroke penalty as prescribed by the rules.
For: Several players weren’t exactly happy with this. They typically don’t sound off en masse unless something goes completely off the rails (see Johnson, Dustin in 2016).
Against: He’s Phil Mickelson. It was his birthday! Fans love the guy! Fans don’t care what the haters think.
For: Oh, so the rules don’t apply to beloved players. His explanation was…well, you watch it.
Against: He wasn’t going to win so what’s the big deal? Shut up! Phil’s awesome!
For: Have you heard of protecting the field?
Against: Dummy says what?
For: He should have done the honorable thing and WD on Saturday night.
Against: He offered to and the USGA said no. Says his wife Amy.
Resolved: We disagree. Brendan Porath has a pretty smart take here. I also think John Feinstein gets it right (his words, not mine):
Here are two things that are crystal clear: First, Mickelson embarrassed himself with his sprint, spin and putt while his bogey putt was still rolling. Second, the USGA, already having a bad day because of the way Shinnecock Hills was set up, embarrassed itself further by not disqualifying Mickelson the instant he smugly told the media his act was intentional.
Issue: The USGA’s course set-up went off the rails. Again.
For: When you look at every foul-up or controversy at a men’s US Open, the problem can be traced back to course set-up. Golf Channel certainly didn’t mince words.
Against: It’s the National Championship! It’s supposed to be hard! Who wants to see someone win with 20 under as a score?
For: The USGA admitted that they lost the course on Saturday and several players agreed.
Against: Oh great, now the players are turning into snowflakes because the course is a bit difficult. Why not just get rid of all the rough and give everyone a trophy? I want it harder!
For: The greens were dead. Again. After pinkie-swearing that there would not be a repeat of 2004. They lost them in 2016, 2015, 2014. Merion was lambasted in 2013.
Against: US Open is supposed to be hard. HULK SMASH. Put bears in the fairway and land sharks in the rough. MUST MAKE HARD. What- they can’t play in wind anymore? Winning score should be 20 over par so that us regular golfers can relate!
For: It was windier than they expected. In an area that is known to be windy. Apparently with all this technology they literally can’t forecast wind a day in advance.
Against: It’s the National Championship, not some random tournament.
For: You can create a difficult challenge without stressing out greens.
Against: NO YOU CAN’T. They should be stimping out at 20. I WANT CARNAGE!!!
For: The Masters, Open Championship and USPGA manage course set-up without turning greens into parking lots.
Against: Did I stutter? I WANT CARNAGE! Tears, blood, and everything unfair. It’s our national championship and it should be hard!
For: It already is.
Against: No it’s not. I want a literal bloodbath. I want a 79 to be the low score of the week. I want to see scores in the 100’s. 9,000 yard courses, bunkers with poisonous snakes, 5-yard wide fairways. AHHHHH!
For: In that case they should just change the putting surfaces to concrete.
Against: Now you’re talking!
Resolved: Somewhere between last year’s event and this year, the USGA can and should create a difficult test that involves something more than lightning-fast greens. Luckily they should not need to do much to Pebble Beach for 2019.
Issue: Fans at the US Open behave inappropriately.
For: You don’t see this in Augusta or at the Open Championship.
Against: Mashed Potatoes! Dilly Dilly!
For: This isn’t the Ryder Cup.
Against: U!S!A! Hey look it’s Poulter….boooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.
For: Maybe a few less beers.
Against: Baba Booey! Look at me everyone!
For: Seriously…can you not?
Against: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Killjoy. Stop being a hater, broheim.
Resolved: The 2024 Ryder Cup is going to be a gong show.
Issue: Fox completed their 4th US Open so only 8 more years of this.
For: Their production and their technical advances are outstanding.
Against: Joe Buck.
For: Shane Bacon was outstanding.
Against: The Bill Hemmer interview during the 2nd round was a special kind of tone-deaf stupidity you only get from Fox.
For: Brad Faxon was outstanding. Not flashy, but does a solid job of telling the viewer something they probably don’t know.
Against: Picking up player-caddie discussions are great. Fan discussions about their…ahem…partners isn’t. Who thought this was a good idea?
For: Mike Davis appeared at the end of the 3rd round and took the hit for the course setup.
Against: Seriously. Get rid of Joe Buck. While you’re at it, tell Paul Azinger to drop the Grumpy Old Man bit.
Resolved: If Fox feels like they need him around, push Buck into a host role (think Bob Costas when NBC had the US Open) and find a competent 18th hole tower announcer. Maybe Shane Bacon is the answer, maybe he’s not. Think beyond the norm. Some people are good at golf. Buck isn’t. It’s been four years of USGA events; he’s not going to get better. It’s just not his thing.
SONG OF THE DAY
30 years ago today I went with some friends to see Depeche Mode at the Rose Bowl in California. Good times, minus the five couples around me who broke up (including the couple I went with), and two people projectile vomiting in the sink of the men’s washroom. Enjoy.