The Open
By kickntrue on 6/21/10
By Matt Snyder, ClubSG Contributor

Matt is an opinionated* golf enthusiast from Pennsylvania. He coaches at the high school level, molding the minds and swings of our next generation. His column will appear each Monday on ClubSG. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts and opinions of Matt in the comments. Don't hold back- because Matt won't.

Well, another week and another great tournament on the PGA Tour. The 110th U.S. Open certainly did not disappoint the fans of the sport. Pebble Beach, perhaps the most scenic course in the world, was set up beautifully and provided a fair challenge to the games’ greatest players. It was a star-studded leader board that resulted in two not-so-popular players rising to the top. With a score of even par being good enough to win the tournament, I think it is fair to say that the course beat the players this week. As the champion, Graeme McDowell, put it, good golf was rewarded and bad golf was punished.

It's a shame that we only get to see this type of a challenge for the tour pro's once a year, but I am thankful that our country's open championship maintains its' toughness year in and year out.
In my opinion, too many of the courses on the PGA Tour offer no punishment for bad shots. These guys are always missing the fairway by 20 yards and ending up with wide-open shots. They never lose a ball and out of bounds stakes seem never to exist on a PGA Tour course. When greens are missed, there's never any real danger and an up and in is rarely a difficult task. It's a shame that we only get to see this type of a challenge for the tour pro's once a year, but I am thankful that our country’s open championship maintains its' toughness year in and year out. I love seeing these guys have to hit good shots in order to get the ball close. Watching them manage their distances and carefully place each shot so that they have room to stop the ball is way more impressive than seeing them throw shots at the pin from anywhere on the course because the greens are so easy to hold. And, perhaps the most impressive part of watching U.S. Open golf, is seeing how the professionals handle the adversity. It doesn’t take long to see that some of them just don’t have what it takes to make a bad shot or a big number and still battle back. The guys that stay cool and have short memories are often the ones who are able to answer a double bogey with two straight birdies. I love seeing that type of resilience on the golf course and it shows us amateurs that even the pros make mistakes. The key isn’t avoiding mistakes, but the key is how you handle your mistakes. Dustin Johnson, though he behaved with great class, did not handle his mistakes well at all on the first few holes of his final round. He compounded bad swings with bad decisions and more bad swings. However, I do give him a lot of credit for hanging in there and managing his frustration as well as he did. I wish he would’ve swallowed his pride enough to do an interview after the round, but I will give him a pass on that considering the perseverance that he showed during his round.

How about Pebble Beach? I don’t know why we don’t have the Open there every other year! That course is just absolutely awesome. I give a big thumbs up to the Open committee and all those involved in the changes that they made to the course. I loved that they moved the fairways closer to the cliffs and also that they moved the tees around considerably from day to day. I especially liked that they gave the guys some easy holes and some chances to make birdies or even eagles. Moving the tees forward on a couple of the par 4’s and 5’s forced the players to make some decisions. It was fun to see them play out their strategies from round to round. The design of the course was almost as perfect as the views that surrounded it. Pebble Beach showed, once again, to be one of the best theatres in the world for the game of golf.

And how about Tom Watson! On Thursday and Friday, he played with two guys who’s combined ages were 21 years younger than his own age and he managed to hold his own and make the cut. He beat Rory McIlroy, the young phenom from Irleand by three strokes. Can you imagine being 21 years old and packing your bags to go home while a guy that’s old enough to be your grandfather is teeing it up on the weekend? The man is 60 years old and it has been 28 years since he won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Yet, he still had enough magic up his sleeve to finish in a tie for 29th. That’s great stuff for the fans and for the sport of golf. It was awesome to watch him play number 17 four more times and even more enjoyable to see the emotions that he felt as the fans paid their respects to him while he walked up to the 18th green one final time. I couldn’t help but think about his long time caddie, Bruce Edwards, and wonder if Tom was doing the same. I feel fortunate to be able to see a guy like Watson still around and competing at such a high level. With the way that golf has changed, I can’t help but fear that older players being able to compete is soon going to be a thing of the past. For now, I would love to see Watson or any of those guys from that era, throw together a good enough week to win a tour event again. Both Watson and Norman were so close in the last two British Opens and it leaves me with a great desire to see one of those guys pull it off on Sunday and take home a win. Even though he wasn’t battling for the win this week, Tom Watson showed that he is a great champion and ambassador of the game.

It was cool to see him hold it together when the giants of the sport were falling apart.
So, congratulations to Graeme McDowell for being the champion of the 110th U.S. Open. He seems to be a great guy who played some great golf and controlled his emotions and his swing well enough to take home his first major victory. It was cool to see him hold it together when the giants of the sport were falling apart. Also, I would offer a big pat on the back to Gregory Havret for his second place effort. He made a 30-foot putt just to reach a playoff to qualify for the Open. In the playoff, he drained another 20 footer to win a spot in the tournament. Havret’s journey just goes to show the type of great stories that can be written in an open championship. From making a long putt, to making the field, to making the weekend, and to almost winning the tournament. That’s good stuff. So, thank you Pebble Beach, the USGA, and all the players for an excellent weekend of major championship golf. It sure was a great tournament to watch and a proud weekend for golf in the United States.

* Matt's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of SkyGolf.

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