Hooks and Cuts


2010 U.S. OpenIf it’s based on most airtime and most love, the Pacific Ocean will win this U.S. Open in a runaway.

  • Speaking of runaways, so much in Tiger’s career has been unfathomable. Unfathomable to win a Masters at 21 by 12. Unfathomable to win a U.S. Open by 15. Unfathomable to fall from grace the way he has.
  • Phil could really use a signature major outside the Masters, at a famous venue. Tiger won at Pebble and St. Andrews. Jack won at Pebble and St. Andrews. Watson at Pebble and Turnberry. Hogan at Merion. Phil does not want to let this one slip by.
  • Best scenarios for the game: Phil wins, Tiger wins, Watson wins, Rory wins, Ryo wins.
  • Lee Westwood’s looking more and more like the quintessential, unflappable U.S. Open guy. Fairways and greens, fairways and greens. But does he have enough juice in his short game to account for the inevitable missed green in a pressure spot?
  • Look away from the obvious when looking for a winner. Glover, Cabrera, Ogilvy and Campbell were not on anyone’s radar flashing in neon prior to winning recent Opens. Nor was Rocco, and he damn near won.
  • Haven’t heard the word “brutal” thrown around in describing Pebble’s setup. Fair and challenging, yes. Brutal, no.
  • There seems to be a general feeling that Tiger will not win. Eight months ago, with Tiger in the midst of another big season, to think that we’d make that statement at the course where he won by 15 was unfathomable.
  • Phil came close in ’06 to unleashing a seismic shift in golf. Had he won Winged Foot that would’ve been three straight majors and for that moment his standing as best in the world would have been inarguable. But he blew it. And as good and thrilling as he is, Phil still has that “blow it” tendency, where he takes you to the brink of victory and then rips your heart out. It happened Sunday at the Masters last year, and Sunday at Bethpage as well.
  • As poorly as Tiger played at Wachovia and The Players, the truth is he does have a fourth at the Masters and a 19th at Memorial. Not bad. Not Tiger-like, but not bad. So while we’re certainly in uncharted Tiger territory, it would be foolish to dismiss him outright, though clearly and for the first time in his career expectations have been diminished.
  • I like the idea that with each passing major we start looking at 50-somethings more seriously. And with Pebble playing firm and fast and not overly long at 7,040 yards, length won’t be a deterrent the way it was at soggy and stretched out Bethpage. Tom Lehman at 51 might hover. Watson at 60 has our affection, and attention.
  • It’s risky and even foolish to write off a talent like Sergio. But seriously, you can’t help but be concerned. Concerned that his head’s not laser sharp the way it needs to be and that his putting continues to be an albatross dragging him down.
  • Rocco’s late entry as an alternate is a gift to the media because, along with Paul Goydos, he’s first team all quote. They’re Kobe and LeBron in the “say something memorable department.” And given Rocco’s role in the epic ’08 U.S. Open at Torrey, Rocco especially will help reporters round out their Tiger stories.
  • Ernie left a pound of flesh by the Pacific. He played alongside Tiger in the final round in 2000 and became the poster boy for a generation that would be rendered almost meek by Tiger’s hellacious standards. But thankfully, Ernie’s at last given us reason to believe there’s more there. His last major was eight years ago.
  • Retief’s quiet, always quiet. But who among us would be surprised if he led late on Sunday. No one that I know.
  • Next to his induction into the Hall of Fame, Vijay’s special exemption by the USGA has to be the most gratifying acknowledgement of his under-rated work in the game. He owns the most wins ever by a player in his ‘40s and was No. 1 in the heart of the Tiger era. Now he needs to find some faith from 10 feet and in.
  • This is not just the U.S. Open. It’s the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.