Monday, June 19, 2017

The Waste Management U.S. Open

Following the field's record shattering performance at the 2017 U.S. Open, there has actually been some argument over how well Erin Hills served as host of a tournament that entered the week with the reputation for being the toughest test in golf. Suffice it to say, I have an opinion on the matter. One of the more annoying adages that lawyers like to bandy about (and there are more than you can possibly imagine) is "when the law isn't on your side, argue the facts and, when the facts aren't on your side, argue the law." In this case, I thought Erin Hills with its 2017 setup failed miserably as a character building U.S. Open track and I'm going to argue the facts to prove it. 

And if you think I'm just bitter because I shot a complete air ball on my picks last week including my one and done Jason Day who missed the cut, you'd be somewhat right. However, I feel like I was defrauded because, based on the previews of the course and the reasonable expectation that the USGA could figure-out how to make it hard, the events that I am about to list below should never have unfolded. We were promised a U.S. Open and what we got was a . . . well, you'll see in a second. We're going bullet point style for extra oomph.
  • Brooks Koepka tied Rory McIlroy's U.S. Open record for most strokes under par at -16 and that's only because he played the 72nd hole in anti-Van De Veldean fashion by making sure to keep the ball short until it went in for a five. Otherwise, he could've easily broken the record with a slightly more aggressive second shot.
  • Justin Thomas shot nine under in the third round which is the lowest round to par in U.S. Open history (Johnny Miller shot his 63 on a par 71). Nine birdies and an eagle in a U.S. Open round?!? Get out of here. (No seriously, we're going to need you to leave . . . now).
  • In the history of the U.S. Open pre 2017, only eleven players had reached a score of -10 or better and only two of them (McIlroy and Tiger Woods) finished the tournament that way. I can still remember the '92 Open when Dr. Gil Morgan became the first player to do it and the announcers nearly climaxed simultaneously on air when the putt went in like he had just discovered fire. In their defense, the tournament had been around for nearly 100 years and no one had ever done it until the nice man from Pearle Vision Center who you never really believed was a doctor pulled it off.    
  • On the other hand, seven players in the 2017 U.S. Open finished -10 or better and a total of nine players reached -10 or better at some point during the tournament. So for the record it took 97 years for the first guy to do it, 24 more years for ten more guys to do it and last week nine guys did it. I call bullshit. 
  • Thirty-one players finished under par at the 2017 U.S. Open.
  • From 2012 through 2016, a total of fifteen players finished under par at the U.S. Open
  • The top three ranked players in the world and eight of the top twelve missed the cut.
  • Every player in the top eleven had his best ever finish in a major except for Brandt Snedeker and Rickie Fowler. This includes Bill Haas who finished tied for 5th but that probably had more to do with him meeting the FGR the week before (he was so impressed with me that he didn't use his last name).   
  • The last three holes on Sunday played under par . . . each of them, not the three combined. Is there another tournament on tour where that's happened? Seriously, I'm asking. Two other holes on the back (11 and 14) also played under par which kinda raises some questions about what in the hell Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler were doing out there.   
  • The 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open champion was Brooks Koepka with a winning score of -15. (I think I see where you're going with this). 
  • The 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open runner-up was 2017 U.S. Open runner-up Hideki Matsuyama.
  • The 2016 Waste Management Phoenix Open champion was . . . Hideki Matsuyama who shot -14.
  • The 2017 Waste Management Phoenix Open champion was . . . also Hideki Matsuyama who shot -17.
  • The average winning score at the Waste Management Phoenix Open over the last four years was -15.5 which rounds down to -16 . . . Koepka's winning score at Erin Hills.
  • Rickie Fowler finished tied for 5th at the 2017 U.S. Open.
  • Rickie Fowler finished tied for 4th at the 2017 Waste Management Phoenix Open.
  • After an otherwise uninspiring major career so far, Brendan Steele just had his best U.S. Open finish with a tie for 13th.
  • (Ready to have your mind blown?) Brendan Steele's average finish at the last six Waste Management Phoenix Opens is . . . you guessed it . . . 13th (BOOM).
At least he didn't botch the name
of the girlfriend. Oh right. Never mind.
So it's clear ladies and gentlemen of the jury that what we were sold over the last four days was nothing but an overhyped version of the Waste Management Phoenix Open blasted through the utterly tone deaf and nuance free pie hole of Joe Buck along with his sidekick the nasally stater of the glib and obvious Paul Azinger. It was like listening to Simon & Garfunkel's Greatest Hits performed by every failed first round American Idol contestant. The only thing that would've made it worse would've been having Curtis Strange do the post-round interview with Koepka. (What's that? He did? I must've slipped into a fugue state by then).

The good news is that the British Open with its inherent coolness starts one month from tomorrow. In the meantime, I'll be in a hyperbaric chamber listening to nails on a chalkboard in the hopes of chasing Joe Buck's voice out of my skull.         

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