Saturday, June 15, 2013

The U.S. Open and other rants

See Phil Mickelson pound 300+ plus yard drives down the middle of the fairway. See Phil hit gorgeous approach shots into greens with holes in tough locations. Even see Phil roll in a 30 foot birdy putt on the 18th, and arguably toughest hole. See Phil merely tied for the lead in the US Open after two rounds of play. Why? Because it's Phil -- and despite all his skills -- the man still hasn't figured out how to make 3 foot straight-in putts on a regular basis. Once again, he got a case of the yips, missing several of them.

Sure, it's only the second round, and a lot can change on the weekend, and probably will. Though Tiger Woods seemed to be struggling around the course, at the end of the day he was still only a handful of shots back -- well within striking range. If one's into stats and history, Tiger has never won a major when in his current position, but you never know.

A couple things about this tournament struck me as being odd. First, the course itself is a shade under 7000 yards, actually quite short for a PGA/USGA venue, let alone the US Open. One would think the best players in the world would be shooting way under par. Not so. Typically, the rough is US Open style brutal, and at this particular golf course -- Merion, on the outskirts of Philly -- the greens are relatively small. Throw in some devilish pin placements, which will likely get even tougher on the weekend -- and once again even par might just be a winning score at this US Open. Maybe Phil will hang on. Maybe Tiger will make a charge. Or maybe someone else will get hot over the weekend and pocket a major championship. Who knows? They're all pretty bunched up half way through the tournament.

The other weird thing was the lack of Tiger on TV. It's not like he was terrible. In fact, while the course was playing about 5 over par to the entire field, Woods carded a very respectable even par round of 70 on Friday to remain in the hunt. Thing is, over the last decade or so, it seems we (including yours truly) have become accustomed to watching endless highlights of this guy, even if he's not playing well, and not a factor in the tournament. This time, they were kept at a minimum, while spreading the TV coverage around the rest of the field. I have long railed against turning every PGA tournament into the Tiger Show, but now that it finally happened -- it just seemed weird. Maybe it's like guys getting "institutionalized" during long prison stretches. The one thing they want most is to be let out -- but when shown the door to freedom -- they don't know what to do. But I think I can get used to less Tiger air time rather quickly. In fact, I found it quite refreshing. C'mon, the dude's tied for 17th. That means there's 16 other guys that merit more on-air time. Of course, there was still the obligatory post-round TV interview with Woods. So some work remains to be done in the interest of being competitive, but at least this was a start. Bottom line? If Woods is amongst the leaders, or has won the tournament -- then by all means trumpet it to the heavens and splash his face and words everywhere. But if he's hopelessly floundering about several strokes behind -- keep his mug off the airwaves and show us the guys that are excelling. Seems fair enough.

Speaking of withdrawal symptoms -- a sports junkie like me had a problem last night. It seemed like every night for quite a while, there was either an NBA or NHL playoff game going on. Last night -- nothing. Cold turkey. Yes, I knew their playoffs would end in a week or two, but still, it's just not right for those dastardly TV folks to prematurely deprive us of our fix before we're ready to "kick". I know about rehab, because I've entered it every June for a long as I can remember. That's when basketball and hockey are over, and for two agonizing months big-time addicts like me are stuck with the placebo of baseball until the NFL and the college kids start showing up on the gridiron. No wonder they call it the dog days of summer.

I'll pay attention to baseball in September, when the pennant races and playoff possibilities start getting interesting. The problem with that is -- it's typically the same time hard-core Detroit Lions' fans start shooting up with megadoses of Honolulu blue and silver "junk". Once they get that stuff coursing through their veins, there's no telling how they might act. They've even been known to hallucinate about the Super Bowl. Those poor addicted souls. They just can't help themselves.

But for now, there's lots of goodies coming up on the weekend. Hockey, roundball, a NASCAR race at the repaved superspeedway in Michigan where track records for speed are likely to be broken, and yes, the conclusion of the US Open.

Boogety, boogety, boogety. I'll worry about rehab later.

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