Commentary: Why the U.S. Open is the Year’s Greatest Tournament

It is the hardest tournament of the year, every year.  Northern Irishman Graeme MacDowell won at Pebble last year at even par.  Lucas Glover shot a -4 to win at Bethpage Black and was one of only five players to get below par on the week.  Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate ended at -1, before Woods claimed his one-legged title at Torrey Pines in 2008.  It’s hard.  We know that.  Hard is its personality.  Hard is the blood in its veins.

The Masters is ABOUT Augusta National – Amen Corner and all the rest of that Jim Nantz bullshit.  The Open Championship is about overcast skies and bump-and-runs, essentially eliminating most of the exciting big-hitters before they hit the first tee on Thursday.  (If a 59 year-old can almost win it, it’s odd.)  The PGA is, well, the PGA.  What the hell is the PGA and when will the PGA put the screws to Augusta and announce the PGA is setting up shop at Sawgrass?

The US Open is about watching the greatest golfers on the planet struggle to play golf.  It’s about Luke Donald three-putting and Lefty failing to rescue a ball from the sand.  It’s about watching the greats breathe a heavy sigh as they walk off the eighteenth green, managing to stay within a few strokes of the par line.  It’s about the course laughing at the field, smiling the way those obnoxious clown structures do on miniature golf courses.

The 17th hole is now the 18th hole at Congressional.  It was the 17th when Ernie Els held on in 1997 but because it’s level of difficulty is one of the highest on tour, the folks at Congressional wisely relocated it to the 18 slot.  It is 523 yards.  It is a par 4 that’s posted an average score in the past of 4.41.  It has one of the most difficult approaches in the game, with water hovering around the kidney-shaped green.

One of the hardest holes in the country to finish the hardest tournament.  It’s US Open perfection.  And it means no golf fan should leave the TV as the leader approaches the 72nd on Sunday.

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