This U.S. Open had as many storylines as I can remember. A lot of them got lost in the dominance of Martin Kaymer (blog post on him coming soon), so I am going to try and review as many of the stories as possible.
The Top Dawg
Erik Compton. I don’t think anyone could possibly pull against him for what he has been through. On his third heart, he showed a toughness that is un-matched, maybe in all of sports. Yet, he does not want the focus to be on his internal liabilities, he wants people to focus on his outward results, just like every other golfer. This is hard to do because everybody loves the story, but Erik is starting to consistently show that he can contend and eventually win at the highest level. We will continue to watch and pull for Erik to break into the winners circle, and no matter what the future holds, he has provided the sporting world with the inspiration that you are not limited to your disabilities, but limitless in your abilities.
The Future is STILL Bright
Rickie Fowler’s Sunday outfits have always illuminated the golf course, but now he is proving that his game has the brightness to match. This year, Rickie has shown us that he has sort of re-examined his game and dedicated himself to fine tuning every aspect. He has always been a hard worker, but the majority of people don’t see that behind his celebrity status and flashy outfits. It is nice to see golf enthusiasts recognize his hard work and passion for the game.
At 25 years old, Rickie is still in the first quarter of his career. The un-realistic standard brought on by Tiger Woods’ success has trapped Rickie into the harsh whirlwind of expectations that consumes all up and coming players. Unfair, yes, but it cannot be ignored- this added pressure will always be present. With one win on The PGA Tour, many view Rickie as an underachiever. But, he has four Top-10’s in majors including three Top- 5’s in his first 4 years on tour. By comparison, Phil Mickelson also had four Top-10 major finishes in his first four years on tour, but only two of those were Top-5’s.* And remember…Phil was 34 years old when he won his first major championship. Rickie is what, 16…17? Lets give Rickie some time to develop his game, because he is one of the most exciting players to hit the scene in recent years.
*Stats courtesy of pgatour.com and Wikipedia.org
Where was Brooks Koepka?
Brooks Koepka is a young, rising star that has somehow managed to fly under the radar, which might be a good thing…but c’mon…give the kid some TV TIME! Brooks birdied the last hole to move into T-4th and will likely receive an invitation to next year’s Masters, as well as guaranteed status on the PGA Tour through 2015. A successful weekend for a 24 year old. Brooks was a standout player at Florida State and a very accomplished amateur player. Another athletic looking player that seems to have chosen golf over baseball or football. He hits it miles, holes putts, and has a tough mental attitude…good combo? I am excited to see Brooks as a regular player week to week. This time next year, he will not be flying under the radar.
Lush green grass and knee high rough- no thank you. This was one of the most perfect set-ups I have seen in a U.S. Open, kudos to Ben Crenshaw, Bill Coore and Mike Davis. The focal point of the golf course, the second shots into the greens, was on full display and provided a difficult and fair test. Martin Kaymer skewed the results a bit, but the scores were right where they should have been.
The re-design put Pinehurst back into its original form, the way it was meant to be played when it opened nearly a century ago. It also has saved, and will continue to save, countless gallons of water because of less need for irrigation. I hope that Pinehurst will be used as an example for courses in the future.