Do you remember the advice that says if you write a scathing letter, or one with a necessary negative tone, that you should avoid mailing it for twenty four hours, read it again, and see how you might rewrite it having slept on your first thoughts? That's the best way to assess what was just a remarkable U.S. Open. Drama everywhere from different sources, on and off the course. I was going to say it was compelling, but I've read the word compelling about four thousand times in the last five days from other scribes interpreting what happened at Torrey Pines. Many think I'm not capable of original thoughts, and perhaps they're right. I'll try regardless.
1. If Tiger Woods was truly going against the advice of his medical team and was seriously endangering the long term health of his knee, then he's a moron. Tiger Woods is no moron. Let's assume he has the best medical team possible. That's not much of a stretch. Phil Knight himself would change the bandages. I can't believe he'd trade one major title for a shot at many more major titles. The only plausible explanation, if his knee was that bad, is that the crack staff told him he had one, and just one, more tournament left in the knee. If that were the case, he'd suck it up and win his last chance for a major, and then retire. Last I checked he hasn't pulled an Annika. I think it hurt like hell, but the chances of creating more or permanent damage were small. Tiger's too smart to jeopardize what should be another 10-12 years on tour. I think the vague answers to the questions regarding the knee was just Tiger being Tiger. He doesn't want anyone to know exactly what condition he's in, especially the competition. He's also a bit of a drama queen. I take nothing from his victory. He was obviously in a great deal of pain and came through when it mattered. Like usual.
2. Rocco stepped up big time. I've nothing but respect and admiration for how he played and how he handled himself. The #158 ranked player on the planet came the closest to bagging a Tiger in a major. All I want to know is, where were the other 153 guys? Lee Westwood notwithstanding. Lee played great and just missed creating a three way playoff. I mean the BIG names. Els, +5, Goosen, +5, Garcia, +6, Mickelson, +6, Adam Scott, +7, Baddeley, +8, Stricker, +8, Furyk, +9, Harrington, +9, Rory, +12, Vijay, +14. Need I go on? Don't tell me the record course length eliminated a lot of the great players. Rocco's not exactly an animal off the tee. I'll tell you why these "great" players can't challenge Woods in most majors. They choke. Flat out choke. Dr. Pressure comes a callin'. They all have the shots that Woods has. Some are longer than him. Some are statistically better putters or have better up and down percentages. They just can't do it as often when the pressure's on. Particularly under the spotlight of a major championship. Nicklaus had Arnie, Watson, Trevino etc. to contend with. He beat them more than they beat him, but pressure wasn't going to be the determining factor with any of them. They won their share of majors. No one today seems capable of stepping up and going toe to toe with Woods. When that 12 footer is there to decide who goes home with a trophy, he makes his, they miss theirs. Period.
3. Television coverage. First, I wish the P.G.A. Tour would only allow one network to cover a tournament. I don't want the first 4 1/2 innings of a ball game to be handled by Fox and the last 4 1/2 covered by ESPN. It's silly. I had another word for it, but can't print it. Speaking of ESPN, they should be banned from covering golf forever. I won't even get into on air personalities, because it's too subjective. One person might love Johnny Miller, another detest him. I mean what I see on my freakin' screen! In the ESPN broadcast half of my screen was blocked by their incessant crawl and ignorant graphics. I've mentioned this before, but I just can't tell you how amateurish and annoying it was. I wrote their ombudsman a while back with this complaint after watching an L.P.G.A. event. I got the formula email in return stating how my complaint was being forwarded to the appropriate individuals. Sure it was. And monkeys fly out of my butt. Nuff' said.
4. I like the 18 hole playoff format. Not just because this one was exciting and close. I've always thought it made sense. After 72 holes it would be a shame to lose the tournament based on one bad shot or an unlucky bounce. Yes, I know this essentially came down to a sudden death playoff. Coincidence. Yes, I know the sportswriters and tournament officials and network television would prefer it get wrapped up on Sunday. For the record, Sunday's prime time 4th round of the U.S. Open beat the NBA finals in total viewership. Does that say more about the popularity of golf or the decline of the NBA?
5. All in all the 2008 U.S. Open was a wonderful spectacle. Great course, great play, and great memories. What else is there?