Chip Shots From The US Open at Pebble Beach

by Jeff Skinner

For the first three days the US Open was all we wanted it to be.  On the final day it looked like the Golf Gods were playing a cruel joke on us.  What was billed as a showdown of top players, long hitters and a few up and comers, turned into a survival of the fittest.  For a while, it could have been billed the survival of the “unfittest” when the 391st ranked golfer in the world had a chance to win the tournament.

Towards the end of the final round the NBC executives had to be panicking about the possibility of a Graeme McDowell versus Gregory Havret eighteen hole Monday playoff.  What if the USGA held a playoff and nobody came?

I mean no disrespect to McDowell.  I follow the European Tour and he is a very capable golfer and likeable guy.  But as far as pulling in ratings on Monday, well McDowell vs. Havret isn’t exactly Woods vs. Mediate.

Pebble Beach looked as beautiful as ever and it’s time the USGA held the Open at Pebble every five years.  Pebble Beach is too great a venue to not take advantage of it on a regular basis.

Erik Compton playing in his first Open was one of the best stories of the week.  He has more guts (and heart) than any golfer out there.  He needs to be given a few more sponsor’s exemptions.  All he does his show up and make cuts.

I don’t know what was more incredible: Dustin Johnson’s meltdown or the 290 yard three iron to the fourth hole on Saturday.

The USGA’s Mike Davis is a genius.  Who would have thought that a hole less than 100 yards would best these golfers?  The 7th hole played at 99 yards on Saturday and 92 yards on Sunday.  With the wind blowing, few golfers could get it close.  It played over par for the week.

Call me crazy but I would change two things at Pebble Beach if I was King for a Day.  The green at the fourteenth needs a little rework.  There are too many good golfers making bad scores on that thing.  Secondly, I’d cut the $495 green fee in half, so poor slobs like me can get a taste of that beauty.

Cheers to amateur Russell Henley who pulled a thirteen year old kid out of the crowd at the practice range to caddy for him during a practice round.  He knew he would need one before his buddy showed up later in the week and planned on doing it that way all along.  Henley wasn’t the only one thrilled to be at the Open that day.

How about those fairways being shaved right down to the edge of the cliffs?  That is just the type of different touches that Mike Davis isn’t afraid of trying.  I don’t think he pictured Ernie Els crawling around the banks of those cliffs looking for his ball.

Tiger’s game showed some signs of life on Saturday but his attitude is still one of a selfish, self-centered brat.  In the words of John Feinstein, “Tiger thinks he owns the world.”

It remains to be seen if Graeme McDowell can live up to the distinctive list of US Open Champions at Pebble Beach:  Nicklaus, Watson, Kite and Woods, all current or soon to be Hall of Fame Members.  Maybe this will be his start to greatness.

How about Shaun Micheel’s double eagle (albatross) on the 6th hole on Sunday?  That is wild.

The stage was set for Ernie, Phil and Tiger to attack the lead on Sunday and all of them played very disappointing golf.

Ryo Ishikawa showed once again that he is as talented a young golfer as there is anywhere in the world.  He played with Tom Watson the first two days and Watson was impressed with his play.  He said Ryo’s putting reminded him of himself when he was a kid.  That’s as big a compliment as the kid can get.

Finally watching Tom Watson walk up eighteen with tears in his eyes and his son on his bag was a wonderful moment for all of us Watson fans.  No golfer has given us the thrills that Tom has for the past year.  This is definitely his last Open at Pebble and you can’t talk about Pebble Beach without talking Tom Watson.  He and Jack made the Opens at Pebble historic and extraordinary.  I can’t wait to see him at St. Andrews.


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