Say this for the 109th US Open at Bethpage; it certainly wasn’t boring. There was Lucas Glover, the surprise winner whose steadiness belied the fact that he had but one previous Tour victory on his resume. Ricky Barnes, another unknown who set a thirty-six hole Open scoring record, collapsed in the final round and finished tied for second. David Duval, the best player in the world before Tiger, found some of his old magic and was one of three runners-up; his first top ten finish in seven years. The third to finish two shots off the pace, Phil Mickelson, enjoyed a weekend long outpouring of love and support from New York fans sympathetic to his wife Amy’s battle against breast cancer. And, then, there was the rain. Rain that postponed play, soaked fans, diverted parking, moved tee boxes and, mostly, exposed the USGA as an organization that really doesn’t think well on its feet.
In sending golfers out for Thursday’s opening round in a steady downpour that was predicted to get much worse, tourney officials not only made a terrible error in judgment but also set into motion a full four days of bad decisions. First, they informed fans who saw very little golf that their tickets would not be refunded or honored on another day, a decision they rescinded after being beaten up in the press and on the airwaves. Then, on Friday, they stayed with the original schedule of tee times, resulting in the very strange situation where many in the field played two rounds while others, namely Tiger Woods, played just twelve holes. Finally, late Friday and then again late on Saturday, the USGA had players start the next day’s round, even though there would only be enough light for two or three holes, at best.
Here’s what should have happened. Thursday’s first round never should have started. Those that went off that morning were put at a severe disadvantage for the rest of the tournament simply because, over the first two rounds, they played a distinctly different golf course than those who played thirty six on Friday, the only day that saw decent weather. Those golfers enjoyed a second round with soft greens and fairways; conditions that changed on Saturday. Had the first round been postponed, officials could have sent foursomes, not threesomes, off of the front and back nines in the morning and afternoon, creating a level playing field for everyone. As it was, not one of the more than sixty golfers who teed off early on the first day finished the tournament below par while just three were in the top twelve.
The allure of holding the Open at Bethpage is that it’s a public course, one played by the best in the game as well as the fans behind the ropes. Maybe next time, they’ll take it a step further and enlist the services of a local starter, as well.
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Did a double take while watching the Mets the other night. During an in-game spot advertising Thursday afternoon’s game, the Mets urged kids to, “play hookey from school.” Not such a big deal, as public schools close this week, but I couldn’t help wondering how someone in the PR Dept. thought it was a good idea.
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Kudos to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for cleaning up the mess left by the criminal justice system in Florida. Despite pleading guilty to DUI manslaughter, Cleveland Browns’ receiver Donte’ Stallworth will serve just thirty days in jail. While Stallworth will also serve two years of house arrest, compensate the victim’s family and have his license permanently revoked, none of these sanctions would have prohibited him from resuming his career. Goodell however would have none of it, suspending Stallworth indefinitely.
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We may never know the actual reason behind Alex Rodriguez’s absence from the Yankee lineup in Florida. His two game benching may have come about as a result of a conference call between ARod, Yankee brass and team doctors, been mandated by Brian Cashman or handed down by Joe Girardi after Rodriguez broke curfew. While each version of the story was reported in some publication and debated at length, the one constant theme was that the third baseman’s poor production is a result of his being fatigued. Funny, fatigue is the chief symptom of the withdrawal experienced by many after prolonged steroid use. But that couldn’t be true of ARod, as he only used the juice that one time when his cousin, Sancho Panza, stuck the needle in his fanny. Just that one time, right, Alex?
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It’s become the common belief among Knick fans that all of the team’s troubles will disappear next summer when LeBron James and Dwyane Wade sign on with the team. That the odds of that actually happening are much longer than their optimism would allow them to admit is a subject not often addressed. The reality, however, is that it is more likely than not that neither will be in a Knicks uniform on Opening Night 2010. To that end, team President Donnie Walsh must focus on the more traditional avenue for building a team; player development.
New York has the eighth pick in this year’s draft and many have projected that it’ll be used to select Davidson’s Stephen Curry, the best shooter in college basketball who can also play the point. With Curry in the fold along with last year’s first rounder, Danilo Galinari and holdovers Wilson Chandler and David Lee, Walsh would accomplish two things. Establish a core group solid enough to attract big name free agents or, if that fails, a collection of young stars capable of growing into an elite squad. Either way, the only logical way to proceed is under the impression that the draft is significantly more important than free agency. At least until next summer.
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