Saturday, June 17, 2017

The amazing US Open

There's a whole lot of stories going on at this year's USGA golf Open. One we won't hear about is how the course at Erin Hills, Wisconsin (a mammoth 7800 yards long) never would have existed if not for one Steve Trattner, now in prison for murder. A golf junkie, but not good enough to play at the higher levels, it was his idea in the first place and, after finding financial backing and a few architects, the former farm land was converted into a world-class golf course. Stuff happens, sometimes good, sometimes not so good.

Rickey Fowler started out with a bang, posting an opening round 65 -- seven under par. Alas, he fell back on day two, with a ho-hum 73. But after a third round 68 is very much in contention. Let's see how the orange guy fares on Sunday.

Brian Harmon is atop the leaderboard at 12 under through three rounds. He's a lefty. No lefty has ever won the US Open, not that there have been many southpaws on the circuit. Yes, this is the only major Phil Mickelson has never won, but he skipped it in order to attend his daughter's graduation ceremony. There's a man that has his priorities in order. Bubba Watson can be brilliant at times, but not this week. Could Harmon withstand the inevitable Sunday pressure at a US Open and come out on top? Maybe, but probably not.

Justin Thomas posted an incredible 9 under 63 for his third round. This, despite two bogies along the way, to check in a stroke back at -11. What was truly amazing is he eagled the par 5 18th hole. True, top pros eagle par 5's here and there, but this hole played at a ridiculous 667 yards. His second shot came to rest just a few feet from the pin.

Do the math. Two shots that covered SIX HUNDRED AND SIXTY SEVEN YARDS? That's over 330 on both his first two. Your average duffer would likely take at least three, maybe four shots to traverse that amount of yardage, even provided he/she hit them all straight, and not off into the weeds somewhere. Amazing.

A 525 yard par 4? Gimme a break. I could hit the best drive of my life, tee it up again in the fairway and hit another winner, and STILL not get there. These guys hit driver and maybe 5 iron. Quick, somebody check these dudes out for steroids, or confirm they didn't come from the planet Krypton and have a girlfriend named Lois Lane on the side. Great Caesar's ghost!! It doesn't seem fair.

Dustin Johnson, currently the world's #1 ranked golfer and defending Open champ -- didn't even make the cut. Not even close. Seems strange.

Other notables like Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott, and Rory McIlroy have fallen by the wayside. Some Korean guy named Kim has shot his way back into it. Is everybody in the Koreas, north or south, named Kim? Seems like these days.

Given so many players are within a few shots of the lead after three rounds, which will rise to the occasion of the final round remains to be seen. It should be quite the shoot-out indeed. Best guess is anybody that can post a 67-68 on Sunday, given the course will be playing the longest and the pins in the most difficult positions to get close to, will have an excellent chance of becoming the champion.

Meanwhile, Steve Trattner has served 11 years behind bars, only a third of his original sentence. He'll be an old man if and when he ever gets out.

But he saw his dream come true in the golf world. From former cattle ranch, to golf course extraordinaire, to Erin Hills hosting this year's US Open, it's been an unlikely ride in more ways than one.

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