The talk leading up to the U.S Open at New York's Bethpage was of a course that was just too easy, but with only one player bettering par, that clearly was not the case. Hosting its first ever USGA event, the Black not only identified the best player in the world, but did so in front of the most gregarious fans golf has ever seen, much of it do to the fact it was played for the first time on truely public course, or as became known, the peoples course.
Two weeks later, the USGA placed Caves Valley Country Club in Maryland on display for the U.S. Senior Open. What transpired between Tom Watson and Don Pooley on that Sunday afternoon was enough to put any heavyweight fight to shame.
And then last week, Prairie Dunes, which had previously hosted six USGA events, but never one as grand or as visible as the U.S. Women's Open, held the duel between world's #1 Annika Sorenstam and eventual winner Juli Inkster. The course, the place and all the people of Hutchinson, Kansas passed with flying colors.
Special for the USGA and NBC were the Sunday ratings jump for all 3 Opens. Clearly the most impressive jump of all was the Women's Open. Inkster's battle with Sorenstam doubled last years ratings, garnering a 2.2 rating compared to last years 1.1, while at the same time beating out the PGA Tour's Western Open. And with Tiger leading the way, the Men's Open saw an almost 25 percent jump, 7.2 to 8.9, from last year's Goosen, Brooks, and Cink gag fest. Bouyed by fan favorite Tom Watson, the Senior Open also enjoyed a boost from 2.1 to an impressive 2.7 for a senior event(each rating point equals 1,055,000 households).
So together with the ratings, the crowds and the response like those recieved at this years venues, don't be surpised to see Opens again at the Black, the Dunes and Caves Valley sometime in the near future.
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