Hooked On Golf Blog

The Hack Shack is a group of golf fans and golf bloggers who like to comment on the current events in the world of golf.

WE’VE HAD SOME TIME TO LET THINGS MARINATE FOR A BIT:  WHAT ARE THE IMPRESSIONS FROM THE US OPEN THAT YOU THINK WILL STAY WITH YOU THE LONGEST?

Stefan – Pebble continues to be one of the most beautiful places in all of golf.  Great win for McDowell.  I’ve liked him since watching him with Rory in the World Cup last year.  I go back and forth on that 14:th hole, whether it’s fair or if now and then professional golfers can just stop the whining and play the thing.  Tom Watson walking up 18 was very memorable.  I still maintain Tiger is not far away from being his usual world-beating self.

Jack – I thought it was a pretty memorable US Open. I love Pebble to death and, no matter how much players whinge about it, I still feel the same: you just can’t beat that place as a Major Championship venue. Woods is not himself, but I love the fact that he still has the ability to put the spark and electricity back into a tournament and its galleries with one round. Anyway, this one was all about McDowell for me. He left himself enough breathing room to make a few mistakes on Sunday, and walked away the worthy winner.

Jeff – I think this year’s US Open was great. You can’t get a better venue than Pebble Beach, and having Tom Watson there made it that much more memorable. It was great to see him not only be there because of his history at Pebble/US Open, but because he deserved to be and played quite well, all things considered.

That 14th hole is insane and I’m up in the air if it’s fair or not. I’ve heard fom Tour players that they say while it’s unbelievably difficult, it’s also very fair. But maybe it’s those guys just not wanting to make waves! I also thought the little 7th hole added some excitement. Nowhere else in the world do you see a 100 yard par 3 give the best players in the world such a headache. It was great to see Graeme McDowell play well and hold off the big guns of Woods, Mickelson, and Els. He’s been knocking on the door for a while and it was nice to see him break through. Hopefully the 2010 Open will be remembered more for his steady play under pressure, than Dustin Johnson’s complete meltdown.

Tony – I thought it was a good open but not a great one.  I loved how the USGA had Pebble prepared, with the long grass around the bunkers and the difficulty level of the greens.  The cool thing about this course’s length and setup was that it brought the whole field into play, not just the bombers.  That being said a bomber (Dustin Johnson) was on the brink of winning the thing until he realized he was leading the US OPEN on Sunday and completely lost it.  When he hit that shank/flop on #2 I knew he was toast.  I almost fell out of my chair.

Regarding 14, I’m of the belief that it was fine.  If all the players play the same hole in the same conditions that is fair.  I personally like US OPEN golf and seeing the big boys struggle.  It makes me feel like they’re actually human.  I wonder how much easier 14 would have been if the players could have played it with square grooved wedges?

What I thought was most notable on Sunday was that everyone at the top of the leaderboard, including McDowell, gagged.  Nobody within reach made a run at it.  It was just that McDowell gagged the least and calmed himself down enough to pull it off on the back nine.  Tiger, Phil and especially Ernie all had good chances to win the thing but they all made mistakes.  Both Tiger and Phil had terrible putting days.  It sounds like a broken record, but Tiger’s putting was “not Tiger like.”  Phil has been hot and cold in US OPEN with his putting historically so it wasn’t as big of a surprise to me.

The one person who didn’t gag and was very impressive was Gregory Havret, who shot the best final round of those on page one of the leaderboard.  His swing looked as good as any I’ve seen.  I wonder if that was a flash in the pan or if we’ll see more of him.

I love Tom Watson.  I followed Tom around on Tuesday at this year’s Masters practice round.  He was so cool and nice.  I think it is amazing that he made the cut in a US OPEN at that age and it shows how much of a stud he is.

WHERE DO YOU THINK TIGER’S GAME IS AT THIS TIME, AND HOW DO YOU THINK HE’LL DO THIS YEAR AND IN THE FUTURE?

Jeff – Never having been a huge Tiger fan, I’m somewhat enjoying this levelling of the playing field. Like Jack, I think his game is around 75% back. But I’m not sure we’ll ever see the Tiger of old again and the domination he once displayed. I think he’ll win this year, but I’m not feeling it for the British. His mental sharpness is obviously not what it one was, and the British is coming up pretty soon. However, you can’t discount the guy’s two top 4’s in the Majors so far, playing well below his “A” game.

Jack – I’d say his game is at about 60%, which is obviously nowhere where he wants it be. Funny thing being is the fact he’s played nowhere near his potential and still managed to finish tied 4th in both of this year’s Majors! I think that says all you need to know really. Only a matter of time before he’s back winning Majors in my opinion. If he can steady the ship in the next few weeks then I’d say the outcome at St Andrews is a formality.

Stefan – I think Tiger’s game is closer than 75%.  I know Johnny Miller won’t agree, but there’s a lot of things I don’t agree with that loudmouth on.  Tiger’s ballstriking at the US Open was as good as anyone else’s.

Having said that, I don’t think we’ll ever see the kind of domination that we witnessed ten years ago, but I felt that way before his injuries, surgeries, and personal upheaval.  That domination was the outcome of him taking a giant leap in terms of strength, fitness, and work ethic over the bulk of the PGA players at the time.  Now, the rest of the tour has caught up in a lot of these regards.  In a way this makes it a lot more interesting, because now we’ll see if his pure talent is enough to maintain his #1 status.

Tony – Having gone through a divorce over the last few years (fortunately and unfortunately) I can sort of feel Tiger’s pain.  The difference is that my ex didn’t get what is looking like it could be 3/4 of a billion dollars.  That process had a very negative effect on my game.  Even the slightest bad break, like a lip out, would finish me off for a round.  My handicap has gone up a great percentage over the time of my divorce and stress, and my frustration level has been the highest ever.  My psyche has been fragile.  My divorce is now over and I’m trying to get my game back.  Despite what some may think, Tiger is human and this has and will have a negative effect on his game for some time to come.

Will he win a major this year?  Many thought he’d win at Pebble because it set up so great for him and he had such a dominant win in 2000.  He didn’t.  Those same pundits are saying he should dominate at St. Andrews because he plays that course so well.  I have a tough time with that.  As good as he is, he’s not as sharp mentally as he has been in his winning ways.  In “Open” situations you can’t afford to make small mistakes.  He himself said he made “three” mental mistakes in his final US OPEN round which cost him the tournament.  I thought he made more than that.

DO YOU THINK THE MEDIA IS SPENDING TOO MUCH TIME COMPARING TIGER NOW TO TIGER TEN YEARS AGO?

Jack – Yep, but that was inevitably going to happen, what with his injuries and personal life revelations. Pretty pointless drawing comparisons if you ask me: every great athlete has his or her prime years and we can’t expect it to last forever. If you asked today’s pros, I’m sure the majority of ‘em would give an arm and a leg to have Tiger’s current, 60 – 75% game! Bottom line being that Tiger can still compete week-in-week-out, even if he’s not as dominant as he used to be.

Jeff – Never having been a huge Tiger fan, I’m somewhat enjoying this levelling of the playing field. Like Jack, I think his game is around 75% back. But I’m not sure we’ll ever see the Tiger of old again and the domination he once displayed. I think he’ll win this year, but I’m not feeling it for the British. His mental sharpness is obviously not what it one was, and the British is coming up pretty soon. However, you can’t discount the guy’s two top 4’s in the Majors so far, playing well below his “A” game.

Stefan – I agree the media is spending too much time looking into the past.  If I have to hear “that’s not the kind of missed putt we would have seen from the Tiger of old” one more time I’m going to put a Titleist through my TV.

But I think this is another expression of the laziness of the mainstream golf media.  It’s much easier to re-hash some old Tiger comparisons than doing some actual research and maybe possibly tell us who the f*ck Gregory Havret is.

CHRISTIE KERR WON THE LPGA CHAMPIONSHIP LAST WEEK, AND VAULTED TO #1 IN THE WORLD, THE FIRST US WOMAN TO DO SO.  HOW SIGNIFICANT IS THIS?

Jeff – It is kind of hard to believe that she is first isn’t it? I think it’s pretty significant but it was only a matter of time with all the good young American female golfers coming up through the ranks. Just watching the Solheim Cup, you could see the talent there and then with Ochoa retiring, you had to figure. It will be interesting to see how long Kerr holds on to the spot.

Tony – To me this isn’t significant at all.  I don’t follow the LPGA tour much.  I doubt I’ve watched any LPGA since Annika retired.  I don’t find watching or following the LPGA to be interesting.

Jack – The fact that she’s the first women’s world number one is surprising more than significant in my opinion. Can’t believe it’s taken this long! Saying that, I’m not sure how long it’ll last, what with Ai Miyazato being on fire this year. Will be interesting to see those two (amongst others hopefully) battle it out over the next few years.

Stefan – It’s significant, but only for the wrong reasons.  We should not have to get excited to finally have an American #1.  Between that bit of statistics and the 7-month drought between American winners on the LPGA Tour (that’s a total of four events, you know), it’s no wonder they’re in dire straits financially.

IF this triggers an increase in interests and it motivates other American players to raise their game, then it’s definitely significant.  Otherwise, it may be the answer to a trivia question in 2018:  “Who was the first and last American #1s on the LPGA tour?”

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