The U.S. Open drove the pros crazy

Published 5:50 pm Tuesday, June 19, 2018

It was a fun weekend for sports.

My Braves grabbed a few more wins and now hold a firm lead in the division, which this team is more than capable of defending through the summer. The World Cup also kicked off, and watching Mexico take down Germany on Sunday is easily the highlight of the tournament so far.

Perhaps the most entertaining, though, was watching the greatest golfers in the world scratch their heads in confusion at Shinnecock Hills for the 118th U.S. Open.

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This course flat out stumped them. It challenged them. Infuriated them. Humbled them. It brought out some odd behavior. At the end of the day, Brooks Koepka hoisted the trophy with a 1-over final score. That’s not a typo. The winner of the tournament didn’t even shoot par.

Can you imagine what the average golfer like myself would have shot there? I surely would have been escorted off the course after spending hours wandering the thick rough, looking for a wayward drive.

The wind blew like a hurricane the first couple of days, and world greats like Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy couldn’t even put together a decent enough round to make the cut. There shots were getting swept up in gusts that they couldn’t avoid. Low shooters like Rickie Fowler had a better time, but still struggled. The greens were like putting on marble floors, with punishing hole positions that dared golfers to come at them.

Things opened up on Sunday, however, and we saw some low scores. Tommy Fleetwood had a heck of a round, posting a 7-under, and Hideki Matsuyama also strung together a few birdies and scored a 4-under. Koepka held it together best, though, and found himself winning his second U.S. Open in a row. Back-to-back wins is nothing to shake a finger at.

But there are others I can’t help but to shake a finger at.

Phil Mickelson hit a putt that looked like it was going to roll off the green. Inexplicably, he hustles over to the ball and stops it while it’s moving. That’s a move I pull when I’m enjoying a relaxing round with friends, not one I’d expect to see at a major. It’s almost like Mickelson was in on the joke, like he had given up on the tournament and stooped to goofing around because it no longer mattered.

Other pros scolded the course designers, cursing the maddening fairways and greens they had created. The course is challenging, sure, but when you’re playing the victim card because you keep making bogeys, it’s not a good look. It’s not like everyone was playing that well, either.

It was an interesting tournament, and a great major to watch. Next up is The Open at Carnoustie Golf Links in Angus, Scotland in July. Sounds like another doozy.