It's Almost Open Week
It's almost Open week. And the whole golf world is wondering what these guys will do to venerable old Merion, playing less than 7,000 yards. What do you think? Will it be a mugging? Will they tear it up because of the length?
I'm betting against that. I think the USGA will have Merion's defenses pretty strong against the assault of all these young guns who hit it a mile. The rough is going to be deep, deep, deep, and the fairways cut to 19-23 yards wide in most places, I'm betting. And the greens will be very fast and very firm, with gnarly rough within three feet of the putting surface.
The U.S. Open is generally my favorite tournament to watch, as it demands the most of the players. They have to be dead-on with every aspect of their game. The U.S. Open demands that everything be hitting on all cylinders. Some time back, after one of the Opens that gave these guys fits and had many of them whining, the USGA "guy in charge" answered the whining with a great quote:
"We are not trying to humiliate the best players in the world; we’re trying to identify him."Week in and week out, we see players win regular tour events while hitting less than half the fairways, or missing over a third of the greens. That's not the precision that will get you a U.S. Open trophy. And to me, it shouldn't. The U.S. Open trophy should go to the best thinker, the outstanding strategist, and the one player who had the most command of his golf ball for four straight days.
If you remember your history, or have read any of the hundreds of articles about the Open's return to Merion, you'll know that David Graham won here in 1981 and his final round was defined by hitting all 18 greens! That's command. Hogan played that way. Many people don't know that when Hogan won his first tour event, he followed with two more right after — three in a row. In his wonderful biography of Mr. Hogan, James Dodson pointed out that in those 216 holes, Hogan missed only six greens!!! That's unbelievable when you put it in perspective of today's players. The PGA Tour leader in GIR percentage is hitting less than three out of four. And the PGA Tour average is under 65%.
Anyway, back to the Open, what I'm anxious to see is what club these guys will be hitting in to the 18th, the scene of the most famous golf photograph in history — Mr. Hogan in perfect pose after striping a one-iron from 190 yards to forty feet and a two-putt par to win. I understand that they will have the course set up to try to put the players in that same spot, but that would mean they'll have a 6- or 7-iron in their hands. My bet is that a bunch of them won't hit it as close as Hogan did that one-iron. It will be fun to see.
So, it's U.S. Open week coming up. And I'll be getting some rare TV time to see how old Merion holds up against these guys. Why don't you guys all chime in with your pick for the winner and we'll see who's right a week from Tuesday.
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my pick would either mr woods or a no namer out to make a name for the history books
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