National Championship

National Championship

Spieth, Johnson, Day, and those guys from South Africa…Oosthuizen and a large dose of Grace. The U.S. Open was special for a lot of reasons. A golf course maligned for it’s condition and accessibility for the fan provided the backdrop for some intense drama culminating into an unbelievable finish. A major championship at stake, the cast of characters acted their parts admirably often under an internal duress bordering on mental torture. Jordan Spieth victorious as he gutted his way around the track the last two days without his “A” game, truly sensational legend in the making. Dustin Johnson desperate to separate himself from the scarring defeats in past majors, almost inexplicable course of events robbing this monster talent of certain victory. Jason Day….what else is there to say, that guy wanted it really bad. He attempted to overcome a damning physical obstacle only to fall exhaustingly short in the end. Playing golf through the prism of a kaleidoscope, amazingly able to finish the tournament, hats of J Day. I’m starting to think South Africa only produces “major” caliber tour pros. If you watch the European tour, you know about these guys and their ability to play golf at a very high level under any condition. Seems like a perfect week for the game of golf. A major decided on the largest stage and a new American hero as reward for a hard fought week. So why the angst?

So everybody has an opinion of what went down at Chambers Bay. I got texts from several friends and family following the early coverage on Fox. Many were in disbelief in regards to the shape of the golf course…the brown, so much brown, looked like a true links course in the motherland of Scotland. For the record, the USGA and Robert Trent Jones Jr contend that the true color of the grass was gold not brown. Well it might have been gold up close, but in HD it looked pretty burnt out and brown to me. This is the U.S. Open though, why are we playing 2 “Open” championships this year? There is something to be said for a distinction between major championships. Oakmont, Bethpage, Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach…..legendary U.S. Open venues, markedly different than anything seen across the pond. Divergently unique types of golf, distinction to the U.S. Open as the toughest test in golf anywhere in the world. Was Chambers Bay a tough test? Without a doubt, it was brutally tough out there, but how different will it play from St. Andrews? Aside from slower greens at St. Andrews, the style of golf will be similar….links style golf with a premium placed on hitting fairways and landing approach shots on green complexes in the proper spots. Oh, and those 5 footers will fall much more confidently with the “true” greens found at the home of golf. If the weather is calm, the differences are even less discernable. Insert Johnny Miller for Greg Norman and we will be off to the races.

This place greens up nice with a little water.

Augusta National stands alone, nothing like it in the world. Links style courses long integral to the terrain of Scotland are dramatic challenges requiring a player to adapt to an ever changing living landscape. Thus The Open Championship is a departure from the bomb and wedge target golf prevalent on the world’s tours. Though those old courses will never win a beauty pageant, they are what the game was and we owe it to these old sanctums to continue to revel in their living history….at least once a year. In recent years, the U.S. Open has been the perfect blend of beauty and the beast. I often think of U.S. Open courses like pristine supermodels who will eat a hamburger on occasion, especially those trying to fit a tee shot into a risk reward 18 yard landing area. The PGA Championship annually exhaust us with lengthy rounds and stifling heat, more a combination of marathon and golf. In a nutshell, those are the majors in my view, skewed yes, but aren’t I free to opine? To me, that is the real reason for outcry concerning the choice of venue. Chambers Bay has such a beautiful backdrop, but the course just doesn’t fit the U.S. Open mold. The style of play required of the player, completely differs from the legendary grounds of past USGA championship tournaments.

After all is said and done, congrats to Jordan Spieth. He earned this championship and is fast becoming the new bell weather of American golf. This kid is Texas, a gunslinger who will keep fighting until the fight is done. I like his moxie, it’s contagious, something to really admire even for old dogs who think they have it licked. Commiserations to DJ, maybe he’s right, it just wasn’t his time. I hesitate to call what happened a choke. If he had a 4 footer somewhere else, I might be more inclined to validate that sentiment. At Chambers Bay, no putt was dead until it hit the microphone in the bottom of the cup. The Poa weed/grass will continue to humble the best of them. If there is a blessing, Johnny wasn’t in the tower for this one, I can only imagine the words leaving his mouth seeing that putt slide left of the hole. Think it’s safe to say, Norman is the more empathetic of the two. Looking forward to the original “Open” Championship in July.


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