Notes on a golf scorecard about, well, golf …
… Lots of mixed feelings about the U.S. Open just contested for the first time at Chambers Bay in Washington.
It certainly was compelling theater, with the lead jockeying back and forth over the final few holes between eventual champion Jordan Spieth and contenders Dustin Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen and Brenden Grace.
But was Chambers Bay a theater in which you would want to, or could even, find a seat?
The course definitely returned to golf’s rugged roots. But the course was so rugged there were places where the gallery couldn’t follow, and where caddies (and the vertigo-stricken Jason Day) went tumbling. In an era where golf is trying to make itself more accessible in every respect, this was literally the opposite of that.
Then there was the condition of the course itself, so baked out that balls hit in the middle of the fescue grass fairways often wouldn’t stop until they went down a slope into a bunker. And as for the fescue/poa annua-covered greens, well, they looked like fungus-covered river rocks.
In general, it looked like a British Open. Nothing wrong with a British Open, but we already have one of those. Next month. In Great Britain.
I’m all for difficult U.S. Open conditions, but color me a traditionalist when it comes to our national championship. Give me thick rough you could lose a dachshund in, necktie-wide fairways and greens faster (and smoother) than your kitchen countertop. Unfortunately, USGA Executive Director Mike Davis has strayed from the U.S. Open’s identity the past two years at Pinehurst No. 2 and Chambers Bay.
Next year, the championship returns to a traditional course, Oakmont, outside Pittsburgh. It’s often called the toughest course in America, and I doubt the membership will go for 100-yard-wide fairways and more brown than green grass.
I hope not, anyway.
… Spieth’s four-stroke, record-tying victory in the Masters two months ago was impressive enough. But now that he’s captured the first two legs of the Grand Slam, our appreciation of his talent, at 21, is off the charts.
The question now becomes can he capture the single-season Grand Slam by also winning the British Open and PGA Championship, a feat so tough in Bobby Jones’ day it was called the “impregnable quadrilateral”?
Absolutely. If Spieth can conquer Chambers Bay, he can win the PGA at Whistling Straits, very similar in style to the U.S. Open venue, and the British at St Andrews, with its rather similar challenges. It will be a riveting vigil.
… So how did Fox do in televising its first golf tournament? I wasn’t able to catch every word and nuance of its coverage because I was covering the College World Series, and my hotel in Omaha didn’t have Fox Sports 1 (the sacrifices I make for you people). But what I saw of it, Fox did a capable job despite a few glitches and the occasional awkward, locker room-like ribbing from announcer Joe Buck.
Greg Norman is no Johnny Miller (who caustically called the U.S. Open for 20 years on NBC) as lead analyst, but he provided some strong insights. In short, Fox needs to do some improving, but its first foray into golf broadcasting wasn’t the Hindenburg it could have been.
… Oh, Dustin. Dustin, Dustin, Dustin.
… Tiger Woods’ latest attempt to rebuild his golf game is no longer a process.
It’s a crisis.
Woods shot 80-76 to miss the cut by the proverbial mile. He’s now shot in the 80s three times this year after only doing it once previously in his career.
If I was Woods, I’d ditch current teaching pro/yes man Chris Como, fill up an armored truck with C-notes, drive over to see his former teaching pro Butch Harmon and beg, “Please, baby, please take me back!”
Of course, Woods is too proud and too far gone for that. And Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors, which for Woods once seemed as close as a stroll across the street now looks light years away.
Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter: @RabalaisAdv.