Posts Tagged ‘US Open’
Wow – what a brutal test of golf and mental toughness that was! Merion more than held her own and I hope the USGA brings this event back to Philadelphia soon. Congrats to Justin Rose on his first major championship and tough luck to Phil Mickelson who has now finished as a runner up on six occasions in the US Open Championship.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching these golfers deal with the challenge of an incredibly difficult golf course. But I think I enjoyed watching this swing from the practice tee at Merion a little more…
Any thoughts? Whose swing would you like to emulate?
Cannot wait for Muirfield and the Open Championship next month.
The article below is an one I wrote two years ago expressing my concerns about the golf course at TPC Sawgrass and how worthy it is of hosting a “major championship“. My sentiments have not changed….
When was the last time the top 10 players in a major were a combined 55 under par after one round? When in a major have 57 players shot under par on any day? The PGA Tour is trying to buy their way into a major championship by touting The Players as the “5th Major“.
Not many people are aware that the PGA Tour does not operate or run a single major championship. The Masters is run by Augusta National, The US Open by the USGA, the British Open by the Royal and Ancient and the PGA by the PGA of America. With the Players Championship the PGA Tour is making a vain (in my opinion of course) attempt to get into the mix. From the monstrous clubhouse, to the monstrous purse, to the monstrous public relations spin they put on the event – they are eagerly attempting to join a closed club.
My primary reason for voting out the Players is the golf course! Sure the holes we see all look frightening, with tremendous risk and reward, but what about the rest of the course. Ever notice how much the Tour focuses on the closing holes? Please don’t get me wrong – you must be a ball striker to do well here, but this is simply Harbourtown where rough has replaced trees. Distance does not make a great course , but give the best in the world ten opportunities from inside 140 yards and look out. There are 10 short, legit birdie opportunities on the course (holes 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 17). Holes where every player in the field, from the longest to the shortest, should be thinking birdie or par at worst.
I have taken the rounds of two players, the longest and the shortest, namely Bubba and Fred Funk and broken them down for your perusal. Let’s start with Fred Funk who played earlier this morning. When it comes to driving distance Fred Funk is currently 62nd on the Champions Tour with an average drive of 265.9yds. That would leave him at 183 out of 185 on the PGA Tour ahead of only Faxon and Pavin. His driving distance was 260 today and he scored a +1 /73. The following numbers indicate the yardage he had into each of the 10 selected holes in regulation:(They include all four par fives and a par three)
1-156yds, 2-82yds, 4-115yds, 6-115yds, 9-87yds, 10-146yds, 11-101yds, 12-81yds, 16-4yds, 17-137yds for an average of 102.4 yards.
The shortest player in the field averaged just over 100 yds into 10 holes on a major championship course?
Now let’s check in with Bubba Watson who played nicely and shot -5 /67. He is currently the longest hitter on the PGA Tour at 313.8 yards per poke. Today he averaged 318 yards off the tee. His yardages into each of the ten selected holes were:
1-90yds, 2-53yds, 4-91 yds, 6-104 yds, 9-76 yds, 10-139 yds, 11-29 yds, 12-92 yds, 16-3 yds, 17-137 yds for an average distance in of 81.4 yards. I wonder how many drivers Bubba used on these holes?
The facts indicate that every player in the field is faced with 10 holes on a supposed “major championship” course where the longest shot they are required to hit is approximately 140 yards. And this is with a rainy night before the tournament got under way. What major course has a four hole stretch (9-12) where no approach shot of over 125 yards is required?
In 2008 the greens had just been reshaped and surfaced and as a result were rock hard. The wind blew between 15 and 25mph each day starting at 10 am. In other words conditions were as tough and challenging as they could get and yet, the playoff number was -5. Can you imagine conditions being brutal at Winged Foot or Carnoustie and -5 playing off…?
Grow all the rough you want, make the greens rock hard and roll at 13 on the stimp, but my belief is this – if they have soft conditions and windless days the winning score will be lower than -15. You heard it here first – this is no major, just an over-sized, over-hyped attempt by Tim Finchem to create a PGA Tour major. Sorry Tim, I vote NO!
That being said it should be a fun-filled event with a fantastic field – enjoy!
After being priviliged to play Shinnecock Hills recently for the second time I now firmly believe it to be the finest golf course I have ever played. And I’ve been fortunate to play most of the best in the world.
Since its original design by Willie Dunn in 1891, updates by Charles B. Macdonald, Seth Raynor, Howard C. Toomey and William S. Flynn have transformed a fairly treeless, sandy landscape into a golf utopia. Shinnecock Hills has hosted U.S. Open championships in 1896, 1986, 1994, and 2004.
The thing I found so appealing about the golf course was it’s simplicity; the greens almost seemed like ‘magic carpets’ that the designer had unfurled and laid down at the end of each fairway. Nothing overly complex or tricked up, just simple and subtle elevation changes that all seemed to fit.
The bunkering was decidedly plain too – and I mean that in the most positive light possible. Golfers of just about every skill level would be able to extricate their golf ball from every bunker on the property. What a breath of fresh air - no trickery!
The whole golf course played that way – nothing overdone, just good old fashioned golf. In fact, it may have the finest par four (#14) and par three (#11) in all of golf! Strike the ball correctly and you should have an excellent opportunity to shoot your handicap. The golf course could not have been more different than the way it appeared on Sunday in the carnage of the 2004 US Open when Goosen defeated Mickelson.
I absolutely love this golf course - so much so that I have a new favorite.
That’s all she wrote! The 2009 “official” golf season is in the books and while there were glimmers of excitement, I felt like the year was not one to write home about. Here are a few thoughts:
- Tiger Woods eclipsed the $10 million mark again – Steve Stricker, his nearest challenger was more than $4 million behind!
- No majors for Tiger. If he does not win at Augusta next year I predict Hank Haney will be looking for some new students.
- Biggest surprises in the top 20 on the money list: Kevin Na; Z. and D. Johnson; Y.E. Yang; Brian Gay; Lucas Glover.
- How about this list of golfers outside the top 125: Chris DiMarco; Carl Pettersson; Stuart Appleby; Rocco; Chez Reavie; Johnson Wagner; Trevor Immelman; Ken Duke and multiple other tour winners.
- The highest finish on the money list for a golfer playing fewer than 10 events: Tom Watson who finished 114th after playing only 2 events.
- Brian Gay and Zach Johnson had breakout years. Zach Johnson, in particular, showed that he has the potential to be a top 5 in the world player.
- Kenny Perry, Phil and Steve Stricker had big years. They all won multiple times, but could not win the all important major championship necessary to be able to begin to challenge TW.
- Rickie Fowler will be at the final stage of Q-school. His haul of $570,000 in three events was not enough to earn a card. There is a good crop of exciting young bombers who should get on tour for 2010 – look for Fowler, Lovemark or Stanley to make a minor splash.
- Watney, Casey and Geoff Ogilvy faded badly after promising starts.
- Furyk, Toms, Tim Clark and Els win the Close but No Cigar/Check Casher award for raking in tons of $$ without ever having the final say. Furyk and Els seem to be making a habit of winning this annual award.
- Players who Appeared Out of Nowwhere in 2009: Ross Fisher was the Robert Karlsson of 2008; Michael Bradley (where’d he come from?); Brian Gay; Mark Leishman; Matt Kuchar; James Nitties; and the biggest surprise of all Y.E. Yang.
- Players who Vanished into Thin Air in 2009, the “What was That Award?”: Aaron Oberholser (229); D. Hart (196); Shaun Micheel (180); Bart Bryant (167); and Trevor Immelman (156).
- The “UnderAchiever Award” nominees are: Vijay Singh; Aaron Baddeley; K.J. Choi; Anthony Kim and Adam Scott.
- The majors were a little uninspiring in 2009 with the winners being Cabrera, Glover, Cink and Yang. With a little tweaking we could have had Kenny Perry, Phil Mickelson or a resurgent David Duval, the greatest victory of all time with Tom Watson at the Open and Tiger destroying all comers at the PGA. I like the latter line up a little better.
- The greatest event of the year that never happened: The Barclays at Liberty National - Heath Slocum holed a par bomb on the 72nd hole to keep Tiger, Stricker, Ernie and Padraig in the club house and out of a text book 5-way playoff.
- Michelle Wie has finally won! Great news for both her and the sputtering LPGA.
- The longest hitter: Robert Garrigus (127).
- The straightest hitter: Joe Durant (182)
- GIR leader: John Senden (27)
- Best putter: Steve Stricker (2) I think this is a case for “drive for show and putt for dough!”
- Best Moment of the Year: Y.E. Yang’s birdie on the 72nd hole at Hazeltine in front of TW.
- Classiest Player of the Year: Tom Watson at Turnberry. It will be a long time before we see golf being played the way it was meant to be played, like the way Mr. Watson showed us.
- Worst Hole of the Year: The 72nd hole at Bethpage Black - when did you ever hear of a US Open Champion playing the final hole with a 6-iron and a wedge?
Predictions for 2010:
- Tiger wins a major after he boots HH (he goes it alone for awhile).
- Phil Mickelson makes a serious run at Tiger’s domination – he also wins a major!
- Ernie Els continues to make $$ and does not win a major – or any other US event.
- Tim Clark and John Senden win a PGA Tour event.
- Michelle Wie wins again.
- Annika Sorenstam plays more than one event on the LPGA tour.
- Lorena asserts herself as the queen of ladies golf – again!
- The LPGA tour actually finishes the season with the same commissioner it started the year with.
- Players who re-appear in the winner’s circle: Boo Weekley, Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia.
- The PGA Tour continues to struggle to find sponsors and finally agrees to lower purses at multiple events.
- The book “It’s All About Impact” becomes a hit and sells more copies than the publisher can print……;-)
Thanks for all your support this year. Watch next week for a major Full Swing article.
We have all heard the sound of a properly struck golf shot: the ball squeezing off the face and fizzing toward the target with the divot flying and the ball penetrating the air with a seemingly single-minded purpose. This is the sound of compression! This is golf acoustics at it’s finest.
The compression of a golf ball only comes from a well executed, subtle, downward blow on the golf ball. A strike where the face is square and the path is straight. The easiest way to achieve compression is by getting into a great impact position. Here is how:
- Set up with the stance width fairly narrow and the lead eye over the ball. The ball position should favor a little more back than forward.
- Remain fairly centered over the ball in the back swing. Obey the 84 degree secret!
- Drive the weight (hips and thighs) onto the front foot without getting the head forward of where it started. This is what I refer to as body curve!
- Trap the ball by leading with the handle into the hit. The hands must beat the club head to impact. With the weight comfortably favoring the front foot this creates the descending strike on the ball which in turn leads to compression!
Notice the uncanny similarity between Vijay and Tom in the illustrations. While they have each already impacted the ball it does appear that the handle of the club got beyond the ball prior to impact as they both achieve the appropriate amount of body curve.
A recipe for compression!
A great strike on the ball is a necessity when you play a course like the players will face in the 2009 U.S Open at Bethpage Black. The long and punishing test is designed to expose any ball striking flaws that may exist.
Here are a few U.S.Open notes:
Newsday.com has some great up-to-the-minute news and photos – Long Island style!
What does Hank Haney do while watching Tiger hit every single shot of the last two weeks? I think he was in every picture I saw of Tiger.
I find it interesting that there have already been four withdrawals. If my game or body was not in top shape I think I’d stay home too!
I predict a winning score of -5 and I predict someone in a red shirt will win!