A week seemingly defined by withdrawals was dominated by one player (Erik Compton) who refused to take a knee and 18 others who rewarded St. Jude Classic officials with a metaphorical knee to the gut.
Erik Compton. When we spotted the two-time heart transplant recipient on the Muirfield Village practice tee just before dusk last Sunday he didn’t have the look of a man bound for the U.S. Open. Fresh from a final-round 82 and exhausted, if he made it back to his hotel room we would have considered it a victory of sorts.
But on Monday afternoon, following 36 holes of Open qualifying and a three-hole playoff, Compton beat the odds, again, and will play in his first national championship.
Compton’s tale got even better on Wednesday when we called him and were greeted with the following message, “My phone is at the bottom of the ocean. Leave your name and number so I can call you back.”
Compton’s phone fell overboard during a recent fishing trip in south Florida. Seems about right for a pro who plays his best golf when he appears in over his head.
Tiger Woods. OK, the world No. 1 may be getting a hefty appearance fee to go back Down Under to defend his Australian Masters title, although chances are not as many zeros as he got pre-No. 27, but his impact on the game is undeniable.
Dale Lynch, swing coach for the likes of Aaron Baddeley and Geoff Ogilvy who is also involved in a golf course project in Australia, said Woods’ appearance last year spiked interest across the country, and his early commitment to this year’s championship will give organizers that much more time to market his appearance.
His current issues aside, Woods is good for the game and his early commitment is worth a kudo.
U.S. Golf Association. During a recent conversation with USGA executive David Fay about the association’s shift toward public access venues for the U.S. Open, he pointed out the importance of holding the national championship at publically-owned facilities like Bethpage, Torrey Pines and Chambers Bay in 2015. He also made it clear the expansion was not complete.
“The only missing component would be a privately owned stand-alone golf course and that may be resolved very quickly,” Fay said.
Cog Hill outside Chicago and Erin Hills in Wisconsin both fit that description and have been rumored as possible sites for a future U.S. Open. Expect an announcement on this as early as next week.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Revisionist. We like Justin Rose, hard not to, but the Englishman had months to punch his ticket into next week’s Open, to say nothing of 36 holes on Monday in Columbus, Ohio, and those who used Rose’s Open miss as a chance to question the USGA’s entry policies are revisionist, at best, and opportunist, at worst.
“I keep saying this until I'm blue in the face,' Fay told the Associated Press. 'It's not the best field in golf. It never pretended to be. It's the most democratic championship. In a perfect world, we wouldn't have special exemptions. But if you can keep half the field open to qualifiers ... that's why we have 9,000 entries.”
Haven’t had a chance yet, but when we ask Rose, we bet he will agree.
Withdrawals. Some took umbrage with the smattering of withdrawals following Monday morning’s opening round of U.S. Open qualifying, but we have less of a concern with Pat Perez bolting central Ohio after his a.m. 73 than with the 18 players who opted out of playing this week’s St. Jude Classic at the last minute.
The timing and uncertainty of Open qualifying – not to mention the logistics of a West Coast Open – can make committing to the Memphis stop a challenge, but when the list of available alternates dips all the way to Jay Delsing, a journeyman who hasn’t played more than eight events in a season since 2007, it might be time for the Tour to step in. As one long-time Tour manager put it, “The Tour, tournament organizers, volunteers and charities deserve better than this.”
Odds makers. “Cut Line” is no stranger to the Ladbrokes betting house tucked just down North Street from the Old Course in St. Andrews but we won’t be making any bets this year if this is the best the odds makers can do.
Ladbrokes has Woods and Phil Mickelson listed as co-favorites for next week’s U.S. Open, 8-to-1. OK, Woods won convincingly the last time the Open was played adjacent Carmel Bay and Lefty may currently be the best player in golf, if not World Ranking math, but we have to wonder if our friends across the pond have been out of pocket for the last seven months.
The big left-hander is a five-time Open bridesmaid and Woods is not looking exactly like the guy who lapped the field in 2000. At 26-to-1 we have two words for you – Dustin Johnson.
John Daly. According to court documents obtained by the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post the big man has filed a lawsuit against PGA National, the PGA Tour and the Children’s Healthcare Charity, the non-profit organization and primary charity of the Honda Classic.
According to the lawsuit Daly suffered a rib injury when a woman walked in front of him while he was swinging to take a picture of him during the 2007 Honda Classic. According to the report Daly is seeking $100 million in damages.
This from the same man who just days ago Tweeted: “Headed toward Memphis this weekend. Ready to get settled and get ready for a great tournament and for some great children – St. Judes.”
But please, no pictures.