Into Thin Air


2009 U.S. OpenFARMINGDALE, N.Y. ' It didnt rain during play Monday, but the sloppy, uninspired golf at the start made it feel as ugly as Thursdays washout. Its hard to know if it was fatigue, pressure or just a brutal golf course.
Whatever the case, we were inclined early on to think it would not be recalled as a great U.S. Open. Wet yes, tiring no question, but not great.
Players, fans, media, grounds crew, they would have all been happy to just get down the road, get into a clean pair of shoes and get a little bit of rest.
But then fate came rip-roaring back, heavier and harder than any of the downpours that tried to but could not kill this championship
Suddenly, it was a scream and holler and get off your sofa, out of your cubicle, off the bar stool, high five, hug your best friend, hug your boss, lord almighty-this-might-end-up-being-one-of-the-greatest-things-Ive-ever-seen sporting events.
Suddenly, Phil Mickelson was one good finish away from completing the best love story in the history of sports.
Suddenly, No. 882 in the world was charging.
Suddenly, Phil was more beloved than Tiger.
Suddenly, David Duval was writing an absolutely mind-boggling comeback story. Not simply a down 25 with 8 minutes to play single-game comeback. Not even like the Red Sox coming from 3-0 down to beat the Yankees in 04.
This would be much bigger than that. Youre bankrupt and then you invent something like Google ' thats what this would be.
Suddenly, this was every bit as tense as last years Rocco-Tiger epic by the Pacific.
And then just as suddenly, he broke your heart. Again.
So did Duval, though that he was even in position to do it is astounding given the size of the hole he crawled out of.
Through it we came to understand just why New Yorkers would connect with Duval. When youve been knocked down, you get up and get going.
Theyve always connected with Phil. And its not just that he reaches out to them. Its that hes like so many of the sports teams theyve rooted for all these years. Sure theyll win a championship here and another there, but over the long haul of rooting for your favorites theyre going to break your heart, miss a foul shot and a field goal and a ground ball in the final seconds of the biggest games.
Of course only a cold-hearted cynic would kick this guy now.
He fought his guts out, he was a good sport all week, and now hell help Amy in the fight of their lives and we wish them well.
It didnt end as many had hoped, but as Phil knows all too well, its only a game.
It did end very well for Lucas Glover, the salt-of-the-earth kid from the Carolinas. He had the trophy in hand when the noise died down.
Email your thoughts to Rich Lerner
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  • Full Coverage ' 2009 U.S. Open
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