by Jeff Skinner
The crowning of Lucas Glover as US Open Champion on the eighteenth green yesterday capped a wild and unpredictable week at Bethpage Black. Glover hung on for a two stroke victory over fan favorite Phil Mickelson, comeback kid David Duval, and Ricky Barnes. It was a great win for Glover as he steadied himself on the closing holes to play the back nine in even par and claim his first major.
The New York fans were pulling for their adopted, favorite son, Phil Mickelson with all the passion they have become known for. I was lucky and early enough to get seats in the bleachers at the 17th hole. The 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th all come together at this spot and portions of each hole are visible from the huge bleachers the USGA erected there. As the players came through the cheers grew louder and louder with each group. Rocco Mediate was a favorite and J. B. Holmes made thousands of new friends as he tossed balls into the bleachers. Tiger came through with his travelling caravan of fans and was cheered as he missed his birdie. When David Duval approached the 17th green he was cheered as the underdog he has now become. When his birdie chip slid by the hole all our hearts sank. The loudest and most sustained cheers were reserved for Phil. He was cheered when they posted his eagle on 13. He was cheered when he appeared on the 15th tee and for his approach to the 15th green. We moaned when he three putted at 15. The fans erupted when he sank a tough putt on 16 for par. As he walked to the 17th tee he wasn’t a golfer any longer. He was Reggie Jackson rounding the bases after his third homer in one World Series game. When he approached the green he was Joe Wille Namath sprinting to the locker room after his Super Bowl III win. As he hit his chip he was Eli Manning throwing it downfield for Tyree. When he missed his par putt we all knew his chance was gone. His miss did not weaken the fervor the fans have for Phil. As he walked off the green and headed to the 18th tee he tossed a ball to a kid cheering for him and he became Mark Messier holding the Stanley Cup over his head and skating around the Garden. The cheers continued all the way up 18 and as he finished second again the reigning sports hero of New York waved and acknowledged all the applause, he was Phil Mickelson again. He was the Phil Mickelson that New York can’t stop cheering for.
A Ryder Cup for the Black
Phil Mickelson may have just created a new stadium in New York. (See his interview.) The atmosphere surrounding the 17th hole was electric. The sight lines allowed for viewing of multiple holes and Phil knew he was in the middle of something special. Afterward, Phil said he thought Bethpage would be worthy of a Ryder Cup. “The people here are incredible. And I just keep thinking that this is like the ideal spot to hold The Ryder Cup. The fans here, first of all, the golf course is terrific, because 16, 17 and 18 are so close together. And the way the fans are, I think that we’d have a big advantage.” This would be the biggest home field advantage in sport. The PGA of America, who runs the Ryder Cup, should call the boys at Bethpage. Phil has a great idea. A Ryder Cup at The Black would be an incredible experience for everyone and the greatest home field advantage ever.