By the time you’re likely reading this post there will be boatloads of players that have already eliminated themselves from contending in the U.S. Open due to their scorecard that looks like a dumpster fire. The harshness of the course set up that causes such disasters is part of why we love this championship so much. And as democratic as the process is to qualify, the USGA set up weeds out the pretenders lacking major mettle as quickly as the made the field.
For Thursday I’m already having visions of a 76 for Bitch Tits and a 65 for someone we least expect it from. That’s how these things tend to play out. I’ve had trouble picking a winner with this one because it’s hard get a feel for who’s game really fits the ‘new’ Pinehurst. If I had to stay away from the Hollywood pick of Mickelson, I’d tell you there’s something about Steve Stricker that makes me want to waste money and bet on him. Then there’s the whole, “will it rain and how much” variable that we can’t predict.
There’s your forecast for the tournament. Obviously the wind won’t be a factor, but with storms possible each day of play we have no clue if the firm fairways of the Number Two course will be softened or play fast as the USGA wants them all week. Rain each day probably gives Sergio Garcia a fighting chance because El Nino is a mudder. In the end a wildcard like Molinari will probably snag a Paul Lawrie/Steve Jones/Ben Curtis type of victory. As great of a victory as Payne Stewart’s was here in 1999, Michael Campbell stealing the 2005 version at this site was sickening for golf fans. I’ll hold my breath and hope for something or someone better this year.
Speaking of dumpster fires, let me give you reason number one why the Masters is a better fan experience for television viewers than the U.S. Open. Chris Fucking Berman. ESPN broadcasts the first and second round of the Masters and the U.S. Open. The difference is that Chris Berman and all the bullshit that comes with him isn’t part of the Masters broadcast aired by the World Wide Leader. My guess is that the Men of the Masters simply know better. Why let a hack be a hack if you can help it? That obviously isn’t enough of a clue for ESPN to banish Berman to the Ocho during our national championship.
Instead, for the 28th straight year, the fat Ivy league drop out will be burning our ears with dated/lame nicknames and cheesy jokes on Thursday morning when ESPN comes on to the air. For DirecTv customers, let me take this moment to remind you that you have better options by switching over the U.S. Open bonus channels found in the low 700s of your guide.
Jason Millard Did What?
Struggling mini tour professional Jason Millard shot 68-68 in the Memphis U.S. Open Sectional Qualifier 9 days ago to punch his ticket for the 2014 version of the championship that starts tomorrow at Pinehurst. It should have been the happiest day of his life. Instead, it might have been one of the worst. Millard thinks that at some point while playing a bunker shot during his 36 holes of qualifying he grounded his club in the sand before he struck the ball. Of course that’s a ‘no-no’ and coulda/shoulda been a two stroke penalty. The thing is, Millard doesn’t even know if he actually grounded his wedge.
You see, Jason took his stance and readied himself to hit the shot and as he pulled the club away from the ball he noticed a mark in the sand. He had no idea how it got there, but it looked like a mark that could be made by soling the edge of a wedge. Did he do it? Was it there before and he hadn’t noticed? Millard wasn’t sure, but he couldn’t get the thought of his possible infraction out of his head. He signed for the 136 total and appeared to be on his way to Pinehurst with no one knowing the wiser. There was no video and no spectators observed Millard’s mythical infraction.
Earlier this week Millard began his long drive to Pinehurst still thinking about what he might have done in that bunker in Memphis. After being in his car a whole 90 minutes he stopped and called the USGA to DQ himself from the competition. If he had assessed himself a two stroke penalty at the qualifier he would have finished a stroke out of a playoff for an alternate spot. He didn’t want to play in the open with this weighing on his mind.
The action Millard took is very admirable, but I call bull shit. You know if you grounded your club. It’s not an instance in which you’re not sure if the ball moved, or something similar. This isn’t gray, it’s black and white. My gut says Millard slipped and did ground his club in said bunker. Now the golf guilt has eaten at him for a week and finally broke him as he drove to North Carolina. He still did the admirable thing and deserves credit for it coming forward, but I think changing the story to save your innocence is stretching it a bit.