I can only imagine how the players feel after that US Open -- I'm exhausted. But that was a lot of fun.
As is usually the case, the course was a brute. Olympic Club was rare, however, in that is was almost universally lauded by the players for it's fairness and condition -- normally the players have a variety of complaints to file. It was just a ridiculously hard test, and Webb Simpson's winning score of one over par gave the USGA exactly what it wanted in the end.
Simpson was an unlikely winner. After a fourth-place finish on his home course at the Wells Fargo in May, he missed the cut at his last two events (Players, Memorial) with a scoring average of 74.7 during those four rounds. He's been driving the ball all over the place, as James Dalthorp has reported the last two months, but he's kept his GIR% among the best on Tour and has been putting well all year. It all came together over the weekend in San Francisco, however. More impressive than the 68-68 on Saturday and Sunday was that while the rest of the contenders were backing up, he played the final 13 holes four under par and made two incredible up-and-downs (No. 9, a long bunker shot, and No. 18, where he had a terrible lie in the greenside rough). That was the kind of stuff we were expecting from others in contention, not necessarily the proud Wake Forrest grad.
After Simpson's sterling year in 2011, he seemed destined for stardom. Now he has it. As many on Twitter have said relating to the devout Christians who have won the first two major championships, the bible study meetings on Tour are going to get a lot more crowded. Here's what else we learned this week:
Tiger still has a little work to do. I saw four things over the weekend: 1) Poor distance control with his short irons, 2) a couple of close calls where he missed fairways by three or four feet that directly led to bogeys, 3) a bad strategy on the few birdie holes, especially No. 7, and 4) an average short game. Every player is going to hit some bad shots and get some bad bounces over the course of 36 holes, but we just amplify Tiger's. He definitely hit some bad shots, but he showed a lot more signs that he's almost there.
But it's the distance control with the scoring clubs that's more troubling -- Tiger just didn't trust it enough to really try to get at some pins when he needed to. And no matter what he says about his game plan for No. 7, the 265-yard par-4, he played it incorrectly all four days by trying to bend 3-woods into the green, which was a stretch. He played the hole +1 on the week -- two-under would've put him +4 overall, t9, and with a lot better look at the leaders coming down the stretch. Still, I saw a lot more good than bad from Tiger this week -- most had practically given him the trophy after Friday. But he needs to win one of these soon to keep his sanity. Still...
Rory McIlroy should be more worried than Tiger. That's four missed cuts in his last five events, and he wasn't even close at Olympic Club. I'm not sure what to say about Rors right now, but I trust he'll pull out of it sooner rather than later. Luke Donald's run of poor US Opens continued, and I don't fancy his chances in the remaining majors, either. At least Phil Mickelson stuck around for the weekend, even if it was an ugly result. That's just Phil being Phil.
Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell were about the last two I expected to falter. I admit, I thought McDowell was going to get the win after Saturday. It's too bad, because there won't be a lot of good opportunities to use him in fantasy golf the rest of the year, although Kiawah Island could be a good track for him if they don't set it up at 7,600 yards. At the end of the day, Furyk played to what you'd expect: a legit top-10 guy in any tourney he enters. But he blew this one, and it came unraveled at No. 16 when he hit a snapper of the tee with a 3-wood. After the round, he told the Golf Channel that he was 'unprepared' for the forward tee, which had been moved up 100 yards from Saturday… meaning he didn't know what to hit off the tee. I don't really buy it -- no reason for a steely guy like him to hit that kind of shot. He still had opportunities at Nos. 17 and 18 and didn't hit the shots he needed. Still, none of should worry about Furyk -- I would've been worried if he missed a bunch of short putts, which have troubled him the last two years, which he didn't.
Another brutal result for Lee Westwood. We tipped him up this week, and he was right there -- again. A ball that never came down from a tree on No. 5 was his downfall. Still, another top-10 in a major for Lee, and he's going to be near the top of the list for contenders in the next two majors -- both Royal Lytham and Kiawah suit his game.
Beau Hossler. He provided some fun for us viewers this weekend, but since he won't have any value in fantasy for another five years, let's just leave it at that. And that I think his fellow amateur Jordan Spieth will be a much better pro anyway.
Jason Dufner contended again, but that putter of his is becoming an issue. He led the field in GIR% and was the most consistent guy out there with rounds of 72-71-70-70, but he just couldn't consistently make putts. He averaged 31 per round. I'm sensing a lull coming from him, but he's now top-10 in the World Rankings and has to be on the list for any tourney he enters.
Kevin Chappell now has consecutive top-10's in the US Open. Be wary of using him in the Travelers this week, however -- last year he missed the cut. Actually, he didn't have another good finish until October at Disney.
I hope everyone had a good time with our US Open Pick 6 game, our live blogs and constant chatter on Twitter. This guy seemed to enjoy everything. Only one person picked Webb Simpson in our game, which speaks to the state of his game recently.
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Photo: US Presswire