I have some US Open fatigue — even if I might have been the only media member who was hoping for a playoff on Monday, just because I didn’t want it to end — but I can’t move on to the Travelers Championship without a wrap-up post. For those wondering why there has been a lack of posts in the past few days (or why I haven’t responded to your emails), I apologize, but I’ve been sleeping at my parents’ house in Seattle. (My parents are very concerned about my health and what the heck the US Open did to me, but I assure them I’m just worn out from the excitement of Graeme McDowell winning.)
First things first, thanks to my readers for all your support, particularly those who contributed to the WUP US Open Fund. Last week was a fantastic, unforgettable experience, and it’s tough to rank the best moments, but here’s a recap on a few of my favorites, along with my behind-the-scenes observations.
*Tiger Woods’ run on the back nine in the third round. We’ll say what we will about Tiger, but one thing I’ve never doubted is his ability to energize a golf course. Getting to witness Tiger birdie the last three holes on Saturday was pretty thrilling. Even though he couldn’t finish what he started on Sunday, he still placed T4. From Thursday to when he called the greens “awful” to when he hinted at Stevie Williams giving him bad advice on Sunday, no, it wasn’t pretty, but it was what it was. When he walked off the course on Sunday, he was undoubtedly heated. Those eyes…with that piercing stare…it was very cold.
*Tom Watson’s final two holes. I still have goosebumps!
*Playing MPCC, the Shore course. Thanks again to Alan Shipnuck and our host, Steve John.
*A quick chat with Lee Westwood to kick off the week. I would have asked better questions had it just been a day or two later.
*Interviewing DJ Styles at the very start of the week. By the way, he didn’t speak to anyone after his gut-wrenching 82 on Sunday. I don’t think anyone even bothered to stop him. I watched him walk immediately from the scoring trailer to the arms of a girl who I’m assuming was his girlfriend and off the premises.
*Poor Ernie. I guess he just couldn’t get it done on Sunday when he crumbled on the back nine. I heard there were lots of missed putts. He also walked off the golf course without speaking to reporters. Head down, no eye contact. In other words, he pulled an Ernie.
*It wasn’t just Tiger complaining about the greens — it was basically everyone who putted on them. Here’s Phil Mickelson’s roundabout way of calling them bumpy.
Q. When you and Ernie were walking off the 15th tee, you were still looking back at that 14th green a little bit. What were your thoughts on that green and how it played the whole week?
Phil: I don’t know if there was a camera behind me, I don’t know if it got a good shot of my putt or not from a low angle, but it was interesting to see the route it took.
Q. It went left and then it was dead in the middle?
Q. It just fell off.
Phil. Well, it wiggled left the first few feet, and then it wiggled right and was going right in the middle and then it wiggled left, right at the hole and went over the edge and I thought that it — I thought it was going to snake in there and it just didn’t quite do it.
*Sean O’Hair had even stronger words. I talked with him for the first time on Friday when he called the greens “really bumpy” and said they were tough to judge. Speaking with me and two other reporters behind the 18th green on Sunday, he said, “I enjoyed [Pebble Beach]. My only complaint here was just that the greens were the worst greens I’d ever putted on.” You mean at a major championship? “No, the worst in my life. Or bumpiest, I should say.”
*O’Hair also added he putted the back nine better than any nine he’d ever played, but he left a lot of putts short. “You can’t give them a good rap because on these type of greens where they’re bumpy as can be, you don’t want three or four footers all day, so I got enough of those trying to get up-and-down for par.”
*O’Hair on Dustin Johnson’s blow-up: “I was shocked. I thought for sure he had it in the bag. He’s going to be in the situation again, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it. It sucks, but that’s golf.”
*Have I mentioned that O’Hair is a great quote and fantastic to chat with?
*There’s a gallery 8 rows deep while you’re trying to watch your favorite player, Phil Mickelson. Solution: buy a periscope in the Merchandise Tent for $80 from the Mickelson Group. Yes, only $80. Phil’s dad has been selling these for years and there were almost as popular as Phil this week.
*Runner-up Gregory Havret has a beautifully smooth swing — one of the best I saw all week.
*The flash area (where interviews are conducted after players have signed their scorecards) is an excellent place to hang out all week, especially on Sundays when the players feel like venting — which is why I admittedly didn’t watch much of the TV coverage after DJ’s triple on 3 and Tiger’s snap hook on 4 (I think it was).
*As Davis Love III’s caddie passed me walking off the 18th green, I heard he say, “That pin is a little suspect.” Davis just wants to play in the British Open.
*Ryo Ishikawa (top picture) has his own flash area, where the Japanese press waits patiently for him and gathers when he’s finished.
*Ryo has a headcover that’s a caricature of himself. Cool or scary? I’m not sure.
I think that just about covers it, but I’m sure I’m forgetting stuff. Anyway, it was great meeting everyone in the golf media. And I was asked if I’d be at St. Andrews next month way too many times. I mean, this adventure to Pebble was all started because people kept inquiring if I was going. Now I just have to find out what the R&A’s criteria is for credentialing bloggers. Pebble and St. Andrews in one summer sure would be a treat.
Alright, that’s all from the US Open. See you soon. Hope you enjoyed it almost as much as I did.