Monday, June 11, 2007

Our Major

This week starts US Open week, my favorite week in all of golf, because this is my favorite golf major for so many reasons. I'll start by telling you why it's better than the other three:

The Masters: In recent years, this really has become a putting contest. I hate to dump right on Augusta like that, but that's all it really is. Missing the fairway doesn't mean much at the Masters, you can get up and down from pretty much anywhere you put it at Augusta. For instance, look at Seve Ballesteros. Probably could save par from on top of a port-a-let if they had them on the grounds up the road at Magnolia Lane, and won two green jackets because of it. Finished in the top 5 an additional 5 times, too. He came close in US Opens, but he just never had the game for it, simply because you cannot make a single mistake (miss a fairway) at a US Open and get away with it. Also, Geoffrey Sisk cannot be found anywhere on Augusta National property the first week in April--more on him later-- because The Masters is invitation only. Is it a tradition unlike any other? Sure, but not the best.

The Open: Some people refer to it as the British Open, I don't because I can respect the fact that they had the Open first, and they invented golf. What they haven't invented in recent years is solid competition. This might sound weird, but I can't stand that the Europeans just can't seem to win an Open Championship. The last one to do it was Paul Lawrie from Scotland, but I don't really count that considering that week was an absolute disaster, and even though another Euro should have won there, there was really no reason to declare a winner after what Jean Van De Velde did on the 72nd hole. So, not counting 1999, the last time a Euro won was Nick Faldo, one of the games true greats, who won in 1992, '90, and '87. But this guy was an ace, who also happened to win three green jackets. And if you say that Euros can't win because of Tiger, I will say to you this: it doesn't take a superstar to win the Open. Since Faldo won in 1990, here's a look at some of the names on the Claret Jug: Ian Baker-Finch, John Daly, Justin Leonard, Mark O'Meara, David Duval, Todd Hamilton, and Ben Curtis. None of these guys are world beaters. It is amazing that the likes of Colin Montgomerie, Ian Woosnam, Darren Clarke, Lee Westwood, JM Olazabal, Bernhard Langer, Sergio Garcia, and Sam Torrance can't win their own Open. Maybe spend less time kicking our asses in the Ryder Cup and play a few more rounds at the Old Course every year.

PGA Championship: It's an afterthought. Hate to say it, but if Tiger isn't involved, very few people care. The last two I remember caring about were the ones where Tiger had to fight down the stretch to hold off Sergio Garcia and Bob May, respectively. Other than that, nobody really cares. Maybe that is because it is the last major, or maybe because it is always played easier than the US Open every single year. Don't believe me? Since 1990, the combined total to par of the US Open winner: -63 (that includes Tiger's -12 outlier in 2000) PGA winner: -183.

So it's a better test that Augusta, unlike Euros, Americans are competitive in their open, and it is BY FAR a better test than the PGA. But there's more. It gives us the great stories like Francis Ouimet, Mark Jones, and Geoffrey Sisk.

The best part about the US Open is that if you are a scratch golfer and have $4,000, you have a chance to win the whole thing. In 1913, a young man named Francis Ouimet, once a caddie at Brookline Country Club, won the whole thing beating Harry Vardon and Ted Ray, two of England's great players of that time. His win is widely regarded as bringing golf into the mainstream; a game that before was previously reserved for the rich and privileged. Sure, but that doesn't happen now, you say. Sure it does, in 1996 Steve Jones went through sectional qualifying to even make it to the US Open, then proceeded to stare down Tom Lehman and Davis Love III, two of the game's heavyweights, to win.

Then theres good old Geoffrey Sisk. Props to the USGA Blog for alerting me to his story, and other amazing stories that can be found by clicking on that link. Sisk has qualified for FIVE US Opens starting at the local level every time. To give you an idea how hard this would be, it would be like having sexual relations with Pamela Anderson five times a night for a calendar year and not contracting a single strain of the Hep. Read more of those amazing stories by clicking on the link, including another guy who simply had to bogey a hole to stay alive in the sectional qualifier, and ended up three-jacking the green for a 6. Bring on Oakmont this week, because as golf fans, it's the best we got.

1 comment:

The Chris Kopech said...

respect for golf? This is America and you must be colorblind. That means you can't see colors. Which means you can't see the colors of the American flag...commie.