If you are a true golf fan, you will be glued to the tube this afternoon watching the conclusion of the 2012 U.S. Open from the Olympic Club in San Francisco. Yes, we will watch and we will laugh at the difficulty of the course, smile at the attempts of amateurs or qualifiers, and even scream when an improbable if not impossible shot finds the bottom of the cup.
The U.S. Open is special to us. It is America's championship and we are mesmerized by the action. Some of us will have a favorite player to root for. Others will just want to see great golf shots no matter who hits them. It is a stern test for the best golfers in the world, but there also will be some names we have never heard of in the field. That also makes viewing the festivities more exciting.
If you can summon up the courage, you might want to guess what score you would shoot on a U.S. Open setup. Personally, I would start with triple digits and hope to be not too far over that number. It could get ugly though. I'm not sure I would even want to try it, but if I could play a course like this I certainly wouldn't want any television cameras anywhere near me.
The world's best golfers will be at Olympic this week. The beauty of the U.S. Open is that qualifiers are held allowing some less than famous duffers to have a chance to make the field. Take, for example, Dennis Miller a PGA pro from Youngstown. His putt on the final hole of the qualifying tournament stopped on the lip and he turned away thinking that his chance to play in the U.S. Open had escaped him. After a few seconds of teasing the ball finally dropped and Miller found himself on his way to San Francisco.
Another golfer you probably never heard of until this week is Andy Zhang. He played in the Open at the tender age of 14. Are you kidding me? That's just not right, but such is the case at this tournament.
For the most part we golf fans will be watching the top players, again to laugh, smile and scream. We will run the gamut of emotions as we root for or against certain players. Emotions such as admiration, envy, jealousy to near hatred will surface as we take in the action. I realize hatred is a strong feeling, but Zhang might make people feel that way. Come on, he's 14. Maybe we don't really hate him, just his youth. Nobody should be good enough to play in the U.S. Open at that age!
I am going to give you three golfers and I also will give you three factors that bring out emotions regarding them. These are not just any golfers, but the winners of the last two PGA Tour events and the defending U.S. Open champion. How many of you have the three names already?
Before I give you the names of the golfers, let's look at my three factors that bring out our feelings. The first is their game. The second is the money. The third factor is the girl. Hey, I did say admiration, envy and jealousy. Think about it. These guys play golf better than any of us ever hope to. They make more money than we can even fathom. On top of that they get the pretty girl. Just doesn't seem fair now, does it?
Two weeks ago Tiger Woods won the Memorial Tournament. It seems that Woods is rounding back into contention for the title of best golfer ever. Seriously, can you think of anyone else that has hit so many shots that we all remember? If I utter the words "better than most" or "in your life" you will likely recall the putt at Sawgrass and the chip at Augusta.
At the Memorial Tiger was at it again. His chip in on No. 16 was a thing of beauty. Though it may not be remembered with a phrase, it was a shot that most of us couldn't pull off if we had a hundred tries. Johnny Miller in referring to the shot said, "that's just sick." Maybe the shot will be remembered by a phrase.
Tiger has the game that we admire. He also is despised by many for a variety of reasons. I have heard people complain that when Tiger is playing it seems no one else is. He is rich beyond our imagination and he got - or at least had - the girl.
Tiger married a Swedish model, but she is now his former wife. We all know the details so there is no reason to belabor the point. His indiscretions have made many hate the man. Still he is an incredible golfer and when we watch the sport we want to see great shots. Whatever your emotions are concerning Tiger Woods, he is going to provide you with some golf highlights.
Last week Dustin Johnson took first in the St. Jude Tournament in Memphis. Johnson has missed much of the last few months with back issues and it was good to see him return to the game. A tall man who hits the ball into another time zone with seemingly little effort, Johnson would have won the PGA at Whistling Straits had the bunker fiasco not happened.
Many people like Johnson for his demeanor on the course. He is very unflappable, whether playing well or not. Does he have a lot of money? Of course. Does he have a girl? Johnson has been dating the relatively attractive LPGA pro Natalie Gulbis. To quote Charlie Brown - good grief!
Last year's U.S. Open champion was Rory McIlroy. The 23-year-old has perhaps the greatest swing in golf. Remember the final round at Quail Hollow? He has struggled lately and missed the cut again at Olympic, but he is rich and is dating the beautiful Danish tennis star Caroline Wozniacki.
As you watch the final round, let your emotions go. Love 'em or hate /em, you likely are to see some great golf. Here's one thought you might want to entertain if you become too put out by the good fortune of Johnson and McIlroy in the girl department. How about being the agent for any offspring that might come from those relationships? Sound like a good idea?
Just keep in mind a statement from tennis great Andre Agassi. When he and his wife, famed tennis star Steffi Graf produced a baby boy, Agassi was asked if he thought his son would become a tennis player.
He said, "it's a big gene pool and you haven't met my brother yet."
Al Stephenson is the golf columnist for The Advertiser-Tribune.
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