with Robert Bicknell
Well, it's time for yet another US Open Championship which means an increase in the sale of Maalox and blood pressure medicine as the best players in the world take on the best efforts of the USGA to humiliate them.
Don't blame me, that's the usual comments from the players themselves in reply to the USGA stock statement that they are only trying to "identify the best players in the world", but personally speaking, I agree with them.
However, it seems that Mother Nature might be on the player's side this year as she has been dropping a lot of rain on the golf course which will soften it up a bit and allow players to be more aggressive both off the tee and with their approach shots to the green.
Normally, US Open fairways run like Hell, forcing many players to hit irons off the tee just to keep the ball in play, but the rain will slow things down a bit allowing the boys to pull out the big sticks more often.
US Open green speeds usually run around 14 on the stimpmeter, but until they dry out a bit, they should be significantly slower. Also, softer greens allow players to be more aggressive and target the pins more as the ball should hold. Under normal circumstances, they have all the softness of concrete.
As to who will win, Tiger Woods remains the favourite based on his history with the course and they way he is playing. Also, because it's in the sports writer's best interest for him to win as it makes for easier stories. Tiger's name in a story translates into increased magazine and newspaper sales as well.
But, is Tiger ready to win a major?
Some pundits don't think so, especially a US Open layout which requires precision driving of the ball and Woods is currently 75th in driving accuracy. I'll bet he wishes at times like this that he stuck with Titleist…
However, he also might be able to deal his major opposition some early damage as he is paired with Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott for the first two rounds. Playing with Tiger is vastly different than when you're out there with the normal gang. There are bigger crowds, more noise and a feeling of being under a microscope.
Phil Mickelson might have an easier time of it as he is paired with Steve Stricker and Keegan Bradley which is a bit lower key than the major spotlight crowd.
Mickelson seems to be more relaxed this time around as he decided to arrive at the event last minute so he could attend his daughter's 8th grade graduation. Funny, but I don't seem to remember schools in the US having graduations for 8th grade. We only had one after 12th grade when we said goodbye to our friends and headed off to university.
I guess times have changed.
Regardless of who wins, the US Open guarantees viewers an opportunity to watch the best players in the world make some unbelievable shots, both good and bad. We will also have the opportunity to watch them meltdown, rip out their hair and lose their minds.
It's just the way it is…and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Well, school's out for summer and that means a lot of things to a lot of people, but for some, it means sending their sons and daughters for golf lessons.
I have been seeing a lot more children at the driving ranges lately and parents are coughing up the money to make sure their kids learn how to play golf correctly.
I have a couple of juniors under my wing and they are taking to the game like ducks to water. This can only be a good thing and hopefully a sign of things to come because Viet Nam needs more junior players.
While other countries in Asia have government sponsored junior programs, here in Viet Nam we seemed destined to relay on well-off parents paying for their kids to learn. While this is a good start, it also limits who can learn and puts poor kids at a disadvantage.
If we can identify potential future stars and give them a solid foundation, maybe someday we will see their name on the leader board at the US Open.
But we will never know if we don't try. — VNS