Readers - I think there were two of you out there - have been beseeching The Grandstander for his thoughts on the recently completed US Open, specifically for his thoughts on Phil Mickelson's rules breaking fiasco in the third round.
First, The Phil Cause Celebre....
I won't recount the whole thing. If you care at all, you know the details. The Hall of Fame golfer, the second best and most important golfer of the still young 21st century, deliberately broke a rule, took a two stroke penalty, and caused a great deal of harrumphing among those who hold the rules of golf sacrosanct who saw Phil's transgression as equal to someone urinating on the altar at the Vatican. My thoughts:
- No one in sports, no one, are more self-important than the rules nerds who run the game of golf. So, when someone of Mickelson's stature sticks his finger in their collective ears, a part of me says "Good for Phil."
- In retrospect, however, Mickelson's actions WERE pretty egregious, and something a little stiffer than a two stroke penalty was no doubt deserved.
- The USGA Blue Blazers, who are the lead harrumphers when it comes to the rules of golf, defecated the bed on this one - AGAIN - by saying that the two stroke penalty was sufficient. Had some shmoe Open qualifier who was ranked 241st in the world done what Mickelson did, he would undoubtedly have been DQ'ed immediately. By showing that there IS a double standard when a golfer of Philly Mick's stature is involved, the Blue Blazers put the lie to the very standards that they hold so sacrosanct.
- Oh, and did you notice that three days after the conclusion of the tournament, Mickelson issued an apology for his actions. Too late, but Phil is a guy who's dodged Insider Trading charges during the course of his life, so I guess this won't bother him all that much.
Second, the pros whine.....
There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth as the pros whined and bitched about how unfair the set up at Shinnecock Hills was, particularly on Saturday. As fate would have it, my "Facebook Memories" today showed this post from this date in 2015 following the Open at Chambers Bay in Oregon. I reproduce it here:
Pro golfers are independent contractors and, as such, are different from most other pro athletes, especially those in team sports. They should be admired for that. However, they take a back seat to NO PRO ATHLETE, not Tom Brady, not LeBron James, not A-Rod, no one, when it comes to - to coin a phrase - primadonnaism. Don't make a noise, don't click a camera, please don't move while I take 120 seconds to line up this putt. The complaints about Chambers Bay that we are hearing are a prime example. Let's bring Rory McIlroy or Jordan Spieth out to Rose Ridge or Saxon and give them a dose of humility in the form of what 99% of the world's golfers have to play on all the time.
Only the date and the location changes. The guys who never had to play on a public course in their lives continue to cry whenever that can't shoot four rounds in the sixties.
Having said that, however, I also say screw the USGA people who insist that the Open be a "difficult test of golf". I, for one, do not particularly enjoy watching the best players in the world kick it round the course shooting seven or eight over par in any given round.
Finally, the winner.....
Let's hear it for Brooks Koepka, who has won the Open for the second consecutive year, a feat that had not been accomplished in twenty-nine years. Between Mickelson and the set up of the golf course, Koepka's considerable accomplishment seemed to be a footnote to the entire weekend, and that's a shame.