Tim Rosaforte - June 11, 2012

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Dustin Johnson won in Memphis in his second start after returning from a back injury and his teacher Butch Harmon was surprised that the win happened this quickly. When you are away with an injury, it takes time to return to the competitive mode and Johnson met some pressure during the final round and showed that he was ready for the test. During his time away, Johnson spent a lot of time working on his fitness and parts of his golf game at home in Jupiter, Florida. Johnson had said that he was eager to return to the PGA TOUR and he proved that was not only eager but also ready to return and win.

San Francisco is a great sports town, people town, and golf town. The Olympic Club is located in Daly City and it is just one of several great courses in that area including Harding Park, Lake Merced Golf Club, and San Francisco Golf Club. The people in San Francisco are passionate and knowledgeable about their golf and unlike 1998 when it was used as a parking lot for the U.S. Open, Harding Park is now a jewel of the area thanks in large part to local people like former USGA President Sandy Tatum.

One of the great stories from Sectional Qualifying was Dennis Miller. Miller is a pro at a public course in Ohio and he advanced out of the Columbus, Ohio qualifier in his 13th attempt to play in the U.S. Open for the first time. The putt that he made on the fourth playoff hole has gone viral which shows that people relate to the story of this man from Youngstown, Ohio. Miller will be taking his wife Denise to San Francisco for the first time and they plan to enjoy this week before returning to  their normal lives in Ohio – Denise as a nurse and Dennis as a pro at Mill Creek Golf Course. The fact that Golf Channel is airing Miller’s News Conference live on Monday is more evidence of how strong this story is.

In his second visit to Monday’s Morning Drive, Rosaforte began by discussing some of the best storylines entering the U.S. Open. Casey Martin has to be at the top of the list because of his disability, the fact that he will be playing in his first U.S. Open since the 1998 U.S. Open at The Olympic Club, and the fact that days before qualifying he had led his Oregon Ducks to the semifinals of Match Play in the NCAA Men’s Championship at Riviera Country Club. Rosaforte said that he has been communicating with Martin recently and he knows that Martin is very busy and very stressed heading into the U.S. Open. It was amazing that Martin finished T23 in 1998 and was just one back of former Stanford teammate Tiger Woods. The USGA has said that are more capable of accommodating Martin this year than they were in 1998.

Mark McCormick, a golf pro from New Jersey with bad knees who was giving qualifying one more shot at the age of 49, earned his spot in the U.S. Open field with Bruce Springsteen’s former drummer as his caddie although his son Ryan, who is on the golf team at St. John’s, did not make it. Mark McCormick will be playing a practice round on Tuesday with his golfing idol Phil Mickelson at The Olympic Club and McCormick said that he has been advised to take a few $100 bills for the round.

Shanshan Feng won the Wegmans LPGA Championship and although she may not be familiar to American audiences, the 22-year-old from China entered the week ranked 10th in the world and she has won numerous times around the world. Feng moved to the United States from China at the age of 15 to compete and she has a strong mastery of the English language. While Feng’s win may be great for women’s golf around the world, her win may not be great for women’s golf in the United States as Asian players have won each of the last five Majors. It is an interesting time for the LPGA Tour as they are trying to market women’s golf both locally in the United States and globally around the world. Shanshan Feng could well be the next Yani Tseng and she is unlikely to become a one hit wonder with this win because she has so much talent.