US Open Wrap — The Great Collapse?

Unsuspecting winner: Ireland's Graeme McDowell wins the 2010 U.S. Open

What a remarkably sloppy U.S. Open final. Can anyone imagine Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els all being in contention, as well as young bomber Dustin Johnson, all being near the top of the leaderboard and a relatively uninteresting Irish pro taking the title? Seems incongruous to me.

  • Johnson’s day was shot largely from the second hole. He looked out of his element after cutting right under his chip beside the second green. He never really recovered and finished T8. Hard to imagine that won’t wear on him — which is too bad because he’s a fun player to watch.  Here’s AP’s take:  “Johnson’s 82 was the second-worst round of the day and the worst final round by a 54-hole leader since Fred McCloud’s 83 in 1911. And now, Johnson will be remembered in the same way as Morgan. “Playing so poorly, I still had fun today,” Johnson said. “I enjoyed playing today. You know, (I’ll) get it done next time.” In 1992, Morgan held the lead going to the final day, only to shoot an 81 while Tom Kite played flawless to win his only major championship. Johnson’s struggles conjured memories of Morgan. Having solved Pebble for wins in the past two February PGA Tour stops here, Johnson saw his Saturday night lead gone by the time he reached the fourth tee. Johnson made a triple bogey on No. 2, a double at the third and a bogey at four and seven. He failed to make a birdie in his final round, after making 11 birdies and an eagle the first three days. “It can do that around this place,” Tiger Woods said. “Just because you are playing well it doesn’t mean it can’t happen to you. This golf course, it baits you into being aggressive.”
  • For quite a while I thought Els would pull it off. He handed his shot at another US Open win away at the turn and never seemed to be able to make anything happen from that point onward. Interestingly, Els, who is usually very media-friendly, ducked everyone after the round.
  • I could have sworn we saw the pre-sex scandal version of Tiger Woods in round 3. But the cranky one who can’t make putts and snap hooks his driver showed up again during the fourth round. This was his for the taking and he didn’t get it done. That said even watching the third round on my PVR I felt the excitement level rise with his run on the back nine. Watching Tiger Woods make a charge is still the most exciting thing in golf.
  • What can I say about Phil Mickelson? He had a game plan and he stuck with it — even if it didn’t really work. Remember the 3-wood fiasco at Torrey Pines? Well Mickelson was going to blast his driver everywhere at Pebble, regardless of whether it made sense. That said, it looked like questionable iron selection on holes like 12 (I think Miller said he used 6-iron all four rounds and came up short every time), makes you wonder what he’s thinking. Like Woods, Mickelson should have put this tournament away.
  • And what of our own Mike Weir? I bet you the last time he shot rounds of 79-83 he was age 11. I know he said his driving was in better shape, but it sure didn’t look that way. Now he’s off on holiday (after this week’s skins game, which doesn’t count) until the British Open. Not a good indicator this year will get turned around.
  • With his win, Graeme McDowell is now #13 in the world. Why then do I think he’s the answer to this question: “Which little-known Irish pro won the 2010 U.S. Open when Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Tiger Woods were all within shots of the lead?” I guess it could be worse — Gregory Havret might have won.

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Jeff Lancaster

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  • RT, I’m sort of mystified why you would label McDowell a “little known Irish pro”. This guy has won multiple times in Europe and was a college standout in the US. Lives in Orlando, and hence represents Lake Nona in the Tavistock Cup.
    He’s fared relatively well on the PGA Tour at times , and has played in multiple WGC events. This guy has proven, he can win anywhere around the world, on golfs’ grandest of stages now. Give him some more credit please.

  • I actually thought Havret alt least played well enough to win the tournament. McDowell was rather weak after his birdie on 5 and simply hung in there while everyone else imploded at certain points.

    More importantly, I thought the golf course stood up very well except a couple of things bothered me. The 7th green was far hard and outside of the wedge Johnson hit in there on the Saturday, no one could get it close to the weekend pins with the wind direction and firmness of the green.

    The 14th green was also a little out of control. The best way to play the hole from outside 130 yards on the approach shot was to hit it in the bunker and take your best chance to getting up and down. Rather then missing it long and right where you would struggle to make a bogey never mind saving par!

    I really like the shaved cliffs but I would imagine Tiger wasn’t too happy on Sunday after his tee shot ran over the hill. I like the idea as it shrinks the fairways.

    Overall, the Sunday was a let down but Phil’s Friday round and all of Saturdays coverage was fantastic. Pebble is now on top of my list of plays!

  • Poor Dustin Johnson…..who didn’t feel bad for that guy and who hasn’t had their game vanish as quickly as his??

    I hope he comes back strong at the Open Championship!!

  • Rob – you need an attitude adjustment.

    Why slag McDowell as “uninteresting”? He won by playing better than the other guys, and deserves the same accolades as any other winner. I think its good for golf when someone other than one of the “faves” wins.

    Same for Havret – he played really well… smoked his playing partner (some guy named Woods).

  • John: You’re not the first to tell me I need to give my head a shake … but I see McDowell like Immelman — good, but not great golfers. Like Immelman, McDowell won when everyone else folded. Like Immelman, McDowell shot over par for the round. He won a war of attrition in which the other golfers shot themselves in the foot. It wasn’t much fun to watch.

  • Rob,
    The US Open is about creating an extreme adverse environment for all contestants and will identify both champion and the cry-babies. It takes immense courage, skill and mental fortitude to handle the situation the way McDowell and Havret did and not too many Tour players can do this. The biggest problem with what unfolded on TV, is that most cannot really appreciate the situation those player are really in. The USGA does a great job to identify their champion, as it has appeared over the years, who best survived their “extreme test” to shoot around even par or 1-under and the rest of the field must deal with challenges of being over par. Hale Irwin shot +7 at Winged Foot in ’74 to win.
    Quite frankly, this is exactly what the US Open is all about. It’s all about the last man standing… the champion must walk the gauntlet and McDowell past the test perfectly.
    The way everything unfolded at Pebble Beach was simply perfect for a US Open. Looking back to the last US Open at Pebble, the only thing incongruous was Tiger Woods’ outrageous play. All the US Opens at Pebble played right on the mark for a US Open other than what Tiger shot in 2000.

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