June 21, 2004

Too hard?: "Could have been one of the great championships..." but because the expected outcome was altered due to the course's difficulty, the 04 Open is a cause to change, as one analyst put it, 'the way the USGA determines the U.S. Champion.'(paraphrase) Am I to believe that because a course was difficult that it should be made easier to soothe egos and sell clubs?

posted by garfield to golf at 12:59 PM - 20 comments

Also, Butch Harmon oddly vocalized his opinion on TW's swing, noting the variety of 'things' Tiger is working on when he comes to the course.

posted by garfield at 01:07 PM on June 21, 2004

Am I to believe that because a course was difficult that it should be made easier to soothe egos and sell clubs? There is "difficult" and then there is just plain unfair. They let the greens dry out so much that it was like putting on hardwood floor. A tilted, sloped, and undulating hardwood floor. The putting surfaces looked more like (and played closer to) your local Putt-Putt than a real golfing green. You shouldn't be able to tap a ball towards a whole 10 feet away and then watch it roll 40 feet off the green. When the best golfers in the world AVERAGE more than 8 shots over par for a round (and the weather was perfectly normal (no rain, 15mph wind)), then you have one of two situations: 1) The listing for "par" is way off. 2) The grounds are not suitable for golf. The only way they could have made the course more difficult would be to take a spade to the fairways and dig randomly placed 3-foot deep holes and filled them with water. I don't watch golf that much (just majors and anything Weir has a chance of winning, and even then only on Sunday) but I got frustrated as balls kept rolling off the greens on the shortest/lightest putts that didn't go in. It slows the game down (how much overrun did it have? 50 minutes of TV time?) and stops being a contest of skill.

posted by grum@work at 02:06 PM on June 21, 2004

I don't see what the big deal is. These are the best golfers in the world, so they should have to play on the most difficult courses in the world. Shouldn't matter if the winning score is -4 or -18, the cream should rise to the top. If you're ego is bruised by shooting an 80, well then tough shit. And just what was the "expected outcome"? Tiger and Phil battling out on the back 9? If you had as many one puts as Goose had this weekend, you deserve to win, no matter who thinks you shouldn't.

posted by corpse at 02:54 PM on June 21, 2004

Also, I should say, from a viewing perspective, I enjoyed all 4 days of the open, I thought the challenging course made for good TV.

posted by corpse at 02:55 PM on June 21, 2004

I completely disagree, grum. I think this is where skill would shine through. Regardless of where par is set, its still the lowest score that wins. I repeatedly saw people 'go for it' only to see their drive run too far and into the rough, while a 3W would run the same distance but stay true. I see that as a difference in skill: playing the course the best way possible. If one's formula for playing fails to produce results, change is needed. Adjustments are what separate the champs from the also-rans in many sports aside from golf, and because the course happened to be extra difficult shouldn't take away from the prestige of the competition. on preview: exactly corpse. what I mean by expected outcome (eternal conspiracy theorist gene rears its ugly head) was that the course was difficult, demanding, etc, until Sunday when Vijay, Leftie, etc, didn't prevail, supposedly damaging tv ratings(names draw numbers), thereby altering their assessment of the course as too difficult.

posted by garfield at 03:46 PM on June 21, 2004

I don't watch golf much, but I have to say that I really enjoyed it this Sunday - even though I watched it with a friend's Dad, which was totally weird on Father's Day. That's saying something. It was kind of cool to see scores that were nearly par win the match, and even if I wasn't enthalled, exactly, I was definitely interested in the drama between Mickelson and the South African with the weird name as it came down to the wire. It was fun to watch. I don't think we should plant land-mines in left field at baseball games or have robots with laser beams defending the blue lines in the NHL or anything, but for me, the difficulty made the game much more watchable. I hate agreeing with Garfield, but there you go. He's onto something here.

posted by Samsonov14 at 05:44 PM on June 21, 2004

All courses should be laid out like Tiger's Dream 18 from EA's Tiger Woods series. Not that Tiger's looking to be challenged.

posted by yerfatma at 08:22 PM on June 21, 2004

I loved it. The only thing that cracks me up more than seeing the best struggle is seeing the best piss and moan about struggling and pine for simpler circumstances. The difficulty of the course was the topic du jour on sports radio in Seattle today. One of the segments had John Feinstein, student of the game, as a guest. He quoted Fred Couples who apparently once said, "There's no rule that says a major winner has to shoot 15 under par to win a tourney." He also expressed a sentiment I agree with wholeheartedly, which is, what's really the problem with having these conditions one week out of the year?

posted by vito90 at 11:56 PM on June 21, 2004

I agree Vito. Take a look at all the scores for those players that finished in the top 10. They are pretty consistent. In fact, the first guy that played over Sunday's average of 78.7 strokes was Ernie Els who shot an 80 and ended up T-9. The cream rose to the top. And who saw the on-course interview with Craig Stadler? He called the conditions "pretty much a joke." He was out watching his son Kevin Stadler. Take a look at their 2004 results so far on some of the tour's easier courses and they are still shooting mid to high 70's on the weekend and missing cuts on the Big Tour. Maybe they should have asked Stads to take a roadside sobriety test. The guy weighs in around 260lbs and he had 2 beers with dinner?

posted by usfbull at 06:54 AM on June 22, 2004

I'm all contradiction on this. I like that Fat Phil had nothing to say but "Well done, Goose." and I hate that Tiger had nothing to say but "That wasn't fair! [/stamping feet]" I think perhaps the time to talk about the course isn't immediately after you've left it, and the place isn't NBC. I agree with Tiger - it wasn't fair (if you define fair as good shots being rewarded and bad shots punished) - but regardless of fairness, it was the same for everyone, and a couple of people took it round under par for four days. I find it sticks in my throat to suggest that luck was the only thing that facilitated that. I think it cannot be denied that the course had problems and that it wasn't set up each day exactly as the USGA would have wanted. I'm all for presenting a difficult golf course, but to me it's not difficult if there is nothing you can do that will work - it's just unfair (and boring to watch). The seventh green was unplayable for long stretches - there was nothing anyone could do to get the ball near the hole. That's not tough, that's unfair. Tough is facing a shot where you know that if you hit it perfectly it will bring you success, but if you waver in the least, you're dead - not facing a shot where, no matter what you do, luck is the only factor that has an influence on the outcome. Finally, you can't use the calibre of the winner and runner up to justify the set-up of the course ("Goose and Bitch Tits are top players, so this must be a really hard golf course that has separated the wheat from the chaff") - plenty of majors and other tournaments have been won by second-rate players on tough courses - in fact, it's often more likely for a nobody to win when it's only luck determining the outcome. I say well done Goose - you may be a dour, boring man in interview, but you have a beautiful swing and the patience of a saint.

posted by JJ at 08:01 AM on June 22, 2004

bitch tits snarf.....JJ, obviously we highly respect your opinion 'round these parts, however I take issue with: Tough is facing a shot where you know that if you hit it perfectly it will bring you success, but if you waver in the least, you're dead - not facing a shot where, no matter what you do, luck is the only factor that has an influence on the outcome Perhaps the shot selection was the issue. Knowing that a green is rock solid, perhaps lofting a beauty approach to the heart isn't the shot that will produce results. Perhaps laying up, unconventional but necessary to shoot par, is the option? I just think the course and conditions determine what shot should work, and not a preconceived idea of how the hole should be played.

posted by garfield at 11:47 AM on June 22, 2004

Nah, even a little chip up was running straight off the other side of the green. As JJ was saying there was no real way to play the approaches. I don't think we have courses that rock hard out here in August, and this is the desert. Shinnecock is a plenty tough course without the added bonus of pavement for greens. Goosen hit 36% Fairways and 33% Greens in Regulation on day 4. That's the cream rising or is this just a putter only golf tournament now? Any other week he gets hammered doing that. Yes, too much bitching from a lot of folks, but the course at a major tournament should not play like hitting a bucket of balls in a parking lot.

posted by pivo at 12:03 PM on June 22, 2004

that's all fine and dandy, but I'm sure a 3W used to skid the ball up to the green could've worked(extreme hypothetical, but I think you can see where I'm going with this): there's always a way. Hell, dry-condition balls could be used. Hell, anything could be employed.....we came to the end of the golf world last weekend, and I think there's a new world across the abyss.

posted by garfield at 02:06 PM on June 22, 2004

I'd rather see the players get really creative on a super hard course. Watching a player hit a 300+ yard driver into the fairway, a short iron to the green and then a two put makes for some pretty boring golf. I like to see the players in difficult situations. It's like the appeal of an island green all over the golf course, you know that one slip up and they will be in trouble.

posted by corpse at 02:23 PM on June 22, 2004

The only issue I had was with the coverage. Just jump out of the tower and go felate Mickelson already, will ya? Hey, I like Phil too, but there WAS ANOTHER GUY LEADING ALL DAY. Barely paid lip service to a now 2-time US Open winner and one of the best in the game. And don't give me that "he's boring and Phil makes for better TV" crap - THEY'RE ALL BORING. They're fucking golfers.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 02:36 PM on June 22, 2004

Hey, I like Phil too, but there WAS ANOTHER GUY LEADING ALL DAY. Barely paid lip service to a now 2-time US Open winner and one of the best in the game. Reasons why this happened:

  1. Phil is American. The TV audience was American. You Americans like cheering for each other.
  2. The crowd at the tournament was cheering like crazy for Phil. You have to acknowledge that and realize the home crowd might be the same way.
  3. Phil smiled a lot. The Goose was very stoic. It's hard to build up love for the stoic guy over the happy guy.
  4. Phil's win would give him two straight majors and let them start going nutty about "Grand Slam" talk. Retief's win wasn't going to give them that angle to talk about.

posted by grum@work at 02:50 PM on June 22, 2004

Course caretaker defends conditions. "When there was no wind, which is the course's first defense, we had to go to the second defense, which is to make it firm and fast." If they didn't do that, Michaud told Newsday, "it would have been just like any PGA Tour event." "We had the flexibility to make it a U.S. Open championship," he told Newsday. "I didn't want to tick anybody off, but when you get guys swearing at you, when you get guys who usually don't say anything throwing their clubs, you know you've done your job."

posted by garfield at 03:52 PM on June 22, 2004

garfield - I wasn't implying that a high arcing fade into the heart of the green should always be rewarded - I was just suggesting that as far as I could see there was NO shot to select at 7 that would have secured a par without a lot of luck involved. Other than going for the slam dunk, I didn't see many other options for keeping the ball on that green. Shot selection WAS a problem - in that there was no shot to select that was going to do much other than make everyone laugh. I don't know what I'd have done. Probably missed the cut in the first place and sat in my hotel laughing at everyone making a monkey of themselves on TV as I packed for my early flight home. That was my usual response to tough courses. And easy courses. "... when you get guys who usually don't say anything throwing their clubs, you know you've done your job." I love that quote.

posted by JJ at 09:49 AM on June 23, 2004

Fair enough. I'm not well versed in the ways of the club, so I assume there is always another shot to try. So, there's a limit to the available shots one may attempt? I guess that's the reality of being allowed to carry certain number of clubs in your bag. But such limitations beg to be breached, imho.

posted by garfield at 10:52 AM on June 23, 2004

There are no limits (other than those imposed by your imagination and talent), but some situations simply have no solution. It's like life, sometimes there's nothing you can do for the best (other than take 6 and move to the next tee).

posted by JJ at 02:38 AM on June 24, 2004

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