The US Open at Congressional kicks off today bright and early. Finally, right? I do love the practice days because I get the most reporting done, but it also means longer hours, longer days and not enough sleep. So excuse me if I’ve been a bit delirious. If I haven’t already mentioned, as of yesterday, I’m primarily blogging/reporting for the Wall Street Journal’s Daily Fix.
For your convenience, I’ll repost the links and perhaps a few excerpts that will direct you to the full story.
Huge thanks to Conor for holding down the fort at WUP while I do my best to multitask.
If you’d like to read the posts I wrote yesterday for WSJ, and trust me, you’ll definitely want to read the Andres Gonzales journal-ish piece, here are the links and some excerpts:
More than two months removed from his gut-wrenching meltdown on Sunday at Augusta National, Rory McIlroy can’t get away from the constant questions about the Masters. To his credit, the 22-year-old handles each question with patience beyond his years.
In fact, McIlroy, a Miami Heat fan, was even asked what he’d tell LeBron James on how to handle disappointment. James’s heat fell to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals earlier this week.
McIlroy seemed both amused and baffled by the question, but gave a diplomatic response.
“Everyone is going to have bad days, if it’s on a golf course or on a basketball court,” said McIlroy. “And with sports these days everything is overanalyzed, stats here, stats there, how has your team combined points in the last quarter of the Finals or whatever.
*US Open: Far Fairways and Thirsty Greens (JP Newport and I preview the event)
NEWPORT: Does this mean the fairways will be running hard and fast, making Congressional play shorter than its daunting listed length of 7,574 yards?
WEI: We can’t forget about the length of the course. The yardage on the scorecard says it’s the second-longest in the U.S. Open history, after the 2008 Open at Torrey Pines. But you know, I don’t think it’s going to be a huge factor. The number is a bit deceptive, since quite a few holes are downhill and the fairways are running and rolling very well.
Plus, it’s way more important to hit it in the fairway. Let’s say a bomber drives it 330 yards on a 470-yard par-four, but pushes it in the thick rough, while an average hitter knocks it down the fairway about 280-290 on every hole. The guy in the short grass has a better chance of making par than the power-hitter who has to punch out of the rough. If he can even get it out – on Monday, I watched a player miss the fairway by five yards and when he tried to hack his ball out of the hay, the ball traveled four feet.
Distance is overrated. Accuracy is not. Of course, if a player has both, then put me down for $100 on him.
NEWPORT: I chatted today with Rees Jones, the architect who renovated the course for this championship. He pointed out that the USGA won’t always be using the full length on every hole, so 7,300 yards or so will most likely be the actual playing distance on any given day. The new par-three 10th, for example, could play anywhere from the listed 218 yards to 50 yards shorter, all over water.
WEI: I love that hole. It’s a pretty daunting tee shot, especially if it’s your opening hole on Thursday or Friday. Most guys will hit a mid-iron, but if they don’t carry the false front, the ball will roll back into the drink.
And best of all, I coaxed a commentary out of PGA Tour rookie and first-time US Open competitor Andres Gonzales. (Dres and I became friends when we both took lessons from the same swing coach (along with Michael Putnam) and played in many junior golf tournaments together. We also attended a high school dance together where Andres wore a baby blue tuxedo. At the 2008 CanTour Championship, I caddied for Andres. Around that time, I was thinking about getting back into golf — not playing, but perhaps on the communications or business side of things. Just being at a tournament and around old golf friends validated my interest to pursue a vision that I didn’t have planned yet.
I cannot wait until Thursday. It will be unreal and Friday’s gonna be better. Saturday will be even better, and Sunday will be the climax of my golfing career. I might freaking retire!
I’ve signed more autographs at this tournament than I have the entire year. I will occasionally ask a kid what his name is and introduce myself around the end of the autograph line. I’ll find a young kid and ask what his/her name is and shake his/her hand. I was raised that if you don’t give a firm handshake and look someone in the eye, it’s not how it’s done.
If a kid looks down at the ground and gives a limp handshake, I’ll say, “Son, if you are going to be in the golf world, you have to give a firm handshake and look me in the eye.” I’ll make him squeeze my hand until I say that is firm enough and then make them look me in the eye. When they do it, I’ll say it is perfect and they smile and it is all good.
I wish Tiger Woods were here. Everyone keeps asking me about my tweets to him. Well, Tiger, you are definitely missing out on the ice cream. There’s Ben and Jerry’s and all sorts of flavors. I hope that you get better, but you need to hurry up because there is good ice cream…
You should definitely read the full entry. You won’t regret it. My only regret is space. I had to edit it down quite a bit, but of course it still carries the same hilarious and amusing effect.
*Lastly, I’ll be live-blogging over at the WSJ on Thursday and Friday from 11am-4pm. Please swing by, say hello, and don’t forget to leave comments so my editor will think people really care about what I have to say! I’ll post the direct link when it’s available.
When I’m not chained to the computer, I’ll be following a few groups. I haven’t decided which ones yet, but probably the likely suspects and then a few of my sentimental favorites.
And we’re off! Oh, by the way, who are your favorites to win and/or contend?