An active mind isn’t necessarily a healthy mind, but it is capable of wandering into uncivilized territory. Especially when its owner is getting paddled, 4 and 3, in the first round of the member-member and looking very much like a D player in an A-B format.
Oh, well. Onto some people who do know where their golf ball is going…
• It’s funny how the whole world saw that guy do a cannonball into the pond after Phil Mickelson won at Colonial in 2008, yet nobody noticed Zach Johnson putting from the wrong spot on the same green four years later.
• Of the dozen or so venues that might loosely define a U.S. Open rota, the Olympic Club would have to rank among the least favored. Not that tour pros and bogey parlors are supposed to get along, and besides, it is San Francisco. Lots of good restaurants and beauty shots from the blimp.
• Fred Couples’ acceptance of a third term as U.S. Presidents Cup skipper indicates a Ryder Cup captaincy isn’t in his future – you can’t do both jobs at the same time. David Toms is the sensible choice to pilot the Yanks vs. Europe in 2014. Two years after that, Mickelson, Jim Furyk and Justin Leonard all will be in their mid-40s. Couples won’t lose any sleep over the snub, but then, Fred doesn’t lose much sleep, period.
• It’s not Olympic’s fault that its four previous U.S. Opens turned into Killjoy Classics: Jack Fleck over Ben Hogan in 1955 (pictured above); Billy Casper over a gasping Arnold Palmer in ’66; Scott Simpson over Tom Watson in ’87; Lee Janzen over Payne Stewart in ’98. Pretty but quirky, a great place to play if you don’t have to keep score, Olympic may not be golf’s official home of the big blown lead, but it’s certainly in the neighborhood.
• To lead the PGA Tour in, say, driving accuracy every year is obviously difficult, yet somewhat understandable. To consistently rank as the Tour’s top putter is almost unfathomable, but Luke Donald has finished No. 1 in three consecutive seasons and is fourth in 2012. The more I watch the guy play, the less I find wrong with anything he does.
• Let’s just say that ’98 U.S. Open wasn’t the finest week in U.S. Golf Association history. Former president Buzz Taylor had used the company bugle all spring to sound off on the harmful effects of equipment technology, and then sat on his hands. Olympic’s 18th green, meanwhile, turned silly in the second round – a ridiculous pin placement led to putts rolling past the hole, then trickling back to where they’d been struck. Stewart and Tom Lehman were the most notable victims, although neither blamed their fate on the evolution of grass-mowing machinery.
• Dustin Johnson returns to action this week for the first time since Doral, having fallen to 24th in the U.S. Ryder Cup standings while needing 2 ½ months to mend an ailing back. A note to all those DJ droolers who think the Yanks would be greatly compromised if Johnson wasn’t on the squad – the guy has won two of his nine matches against the Euros and Internationals.
• Speaking of tomorrow’s stars-gone invisible, Nick Watney’s best finish in 13 starts this year is a solo eighth, which is why he’s 63rd on the money list. Then there’s Webb Simpson, who has picked up a bunch of nice paychecks but contended just once on a Sunday, having surrendered the 54-hole lead in Charlotte. Of course, one big week can turn around a season and leave everyone thinking you’re the greatest thing since deodorant. Until then, you’re just a guy who puts it on one armpit at a time.
• In case you were wondering, Tiger Woods finished T-18 at Olympic in 1998, five spots ahead of Casey Martin, who became the first (and still only) player to compete in a major championship while using a cart. When I think back on ’98, when two of the biggest stories were Martin’s lawsuit vs. the PGA Tour and Taylor’s haranguing, all this gibberish about the world ranking doesn’t seem nearly as bad.