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Rory McIlroy Wins 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional

What a U.S. Open Weekend!

Rory McIlroy at 2011 U.S. Open

Rory McIlroy at 2011 U.S. Open

Rory McIlroy wins the U.S. Open,  his first major, in a storm of scoring on a weakened, yet still long Congressional Country Club golf course. As I watched Rory throughout the tournament I was impressed with his poise and patience, not only on the course, but off as well. I can only imagine how many times he has answered the questions regarding his Masters back nine fall a few weeks before. Even Bob Costas’ ill-timed inappropriate question about The Masters during the championship award ceremony did not phase Rory, but who would have blamed him if it did? (Come on Bob, save those questions for the post tournament press conference!) But Rory has grown up in preparation for this moment. He has proven to be gracious in losing, and now gracious in winning. He is delightful to watch.

A Vulnerable U.S. Open Golf Course

The course was vulnerable this week. With the rough down somewhat in anticipation for hard and fast greens and then rains softening the greens during the tournament, the course was ripe for better than normal U.S. Open scoring…and there was better than normal U.S. Open scoring. Not taking anything away from Rory’s performance as he did lap the field, but there were lots of players under par (20 including Rory). Also, an accomplishment of very few in past, he was not the only player to shoot all four rounds under par – he was joined by Robert Garrigus (T3), although Rory did so with all 4 in the 60’s (65/66/68/69). Garrigus shot 70 3 times making a tough clutch par putt on 18 to make it happen.

Who Showed at the U.S. Open & Who Didn’t

Jason Day once again showed brilliance in a major finishing alone in second. We saw some small glimpses of the Sergio of old. Chappel and Garrigus were the lone Americans in the top 10 at 6 under par, T3 along with Y.E. Yang and Lee Westwood. Where was Phil, Luke and Martin?  The amateur Patrick Cantlay (pictured behind Rory), an incoming 19 year old sophomore at UCLA and the world’s number one amateur, did spectacularly carding an even par score for the tournament and taking low amateur honors.  His next amateur competitor was Russell Henley, a Georgia Bulldog, finishing at 4 over par.

U.S. Open Coverage

It was an interesting dynamic to watch the U.S. Open as broadcasts switched from ESPN to NBC then to ESPN again on Thursday and Friday. What a dichotomy of announcers and styles! I also listened to part on Sirius/XM ESPN. NBC televised the Saturday and Sunday rounds and we got our fill of Johnny Miller. I have to say, I would much rather watch and listen to Curtis Strange (he was broadcasting on radio) than Miller. Miller seemed to be manufacturing scenarios to make it more “interesting.” He was a little out of character I think in his incessant praise of McIlroy’s swing. Usually he will find something wrong somewhere.

What was NBC thinking when they edited out “under God” from the American pledge of allegiance in their tribute to American patriotism? Does that strike anyone else as a strange juxtaposition, to edit a pledge in a tribute to patriotism?! Did they think that most people hadn’t said it in so long that no one would remember it and it would just pass? The apology was lame. As if they simply mistakenly edited out the words. There is no doubt in my mind that it was intentional. What arrogance! Whoever made that decision needs to be fired. We just don’t change the words to fit our agendas…

U.S. Open Repercussions?

A thought came to me that maybe this is just the kind of motivation to bring Tiger out of his funk. Sure, he has injury, but motivation is key to recovery. Doubters of this theory would say that surpassing Jack’s major total is enough motivation. Is it? Now, after the personal failures and the inner searching Tiger is obviously undertaking to find his new self? Maybe this surge of 20-something talent will bring out a hungry Tiger. Just a thought.

Thanks Rory for a great U.S. Open showing!  You’re a great Champion.

Masters Review

This year’s Masters was a “masters-piece!”  Aside from (and also because of) all the Tiger focus and distractions pre-tournament, it proved to be an event to remember.  The Tiger saga was interesting as we watched his tournament unfold, each day like a four-step program of reintroduction into the competitive world of PGA golf – surprise, elation, reality, and struggle.  He finished fourth and he was disappointed, and if not for a very sloppy three-putt from six feet on the 14th hole during the final day he would have tied for third.  Only he could be that disappointed after the layoff he had.  If only I could struggle so mightily and still shoot 3 under par…but he’s Tiger. 

Lee Westwood has finished in the top 3 of the last 3 majors.  He’ll win The British Open if he wins a major this year – so much for my predictions to date, but there it is.  The big surprise for me was the surge of Anthony Kim in the final round, the failures of my South Africa contingent to place, and Harrington and Furyk missing the cut so badly.  Freddie and Mr. Watson should be a surprised, but somehow they don’t feel that way. And we have, yet again, another possible Seve from Europe…the young  Italian 16 year old Benissimo Matteo.  Can he live up to the billing?  Obviously, only time will tell.  This youngster is about to turn pro so we’ll hear a lot more about him in the coming months, I hope.

Phil was masterful, and did it his way which made it all the more satisfying to watch.  No laying up for him!  When asked about the shot off the straw through the trees on 13 during the last round he shrugged and said, “It was only a 6 iron.”  Hmmmmm….

Comment on Tiger’s language.  I was watching the tournament when I thought I heard him drop the “F-Bomb” as clear as day after hitting an apparently abhorrent shot from the tee on the par 3 sixth hole…hit the green by the way.  Jim Nantz jumped all over it, as he should have.  Except, it really wasn’t the “F-Bomb,” it was another word that sounded like it.  In an ESPN replay, I heard it more clearly and he said, “Tiger Woods, you SUCK.”  SUCK accentuated louder than the other words, which is why it sounded like *UCK.  I really don’t consider telling yourself out loud that you suck as profanity.  Other than this instance, I don’t recall hearing any ‘profanity’ from him.  I do recall, however, hearing him say aloud Tigeeeer, in his best valley girl imitation.  That seemed a bit odd, but probably came out that way as a result of trying to control his words.  What is interesting is that previous to all his controversy, that “…you SUCK” event would probably have wafted by like a near silent popcorn fart, no one mention it and it will quickly go away.    We’ve seen the genteel segues occur before in tournaments when Tiger has cut loose an expletive because his ball didn’t do exactly as he desired.  But he has since lost his luster and now is seemingly free game.  In fact, we are poised to target the small lapses from his promised good behavior on the course.  Interesting.