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U.S. Open Thoughts

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Greetings Golfers,

This week the U.S. Open is being played at Chambers Bay in Seattle – the first Open held in the Pacific Northwest. Though the Seattle area is like a rainforest, this golf course is more like a Scottish links course. In fact, it’s so hard and dry, that I saw a video of a player bouncing a golf ball on a fairway like a basketball – not exactly soft and lush.

Even though Chambers Bay is like Scotland, this is the U.S. Open and I expect an American to win. (Note – I’m writing this before play has begun.) America is a young country – we are enthusiastic like young people – and I think optimistic enthusiasm is needed to win this tournament. Henrik Stenson made a negative comment about the course this week – Jordan Spieth responded by saying “If you’re going to talk negative about a place, you’re almost throwing yourself out to begin with, because golf is a mental game”. Patience and wisdom are also needed on this golf course. Enthusiasm and wisdom – isn’t that the perfect combination? Spieth seems to have it. Colin Montgomery said that Jordan has an old head – Spieth is definitely wise beyond his years.

Phil Mickleson has never won a U.S. Open – the only Major he’s never won. He running out of time to complete the Slam … but he could win this week. Phil’s a weird cat. He won a PGA Tour event while he was an amateur at ASU. It looked like he’d be the next Nicklaus. Sure, Tiger Woods came along and made Phil’s path a lot more difficult … but Phil never really lived up to his talent.

Phil lost the 1999 U.S. Open to Payne Stewart. Stewart was a brash, enthusiastic guy when he won the 1989 PGA Championship. But he grew up a lot and was a different guy when he won the 1999 U.S. Open – he was pretty close to being that enthusiastic and wise combination. I think if Payne hadn’t died later that year in that bizarre plane crash, he would’ve given Tiger Woods a serious challenge during Tiger’s heyday. Tiger intimidated everyone – even Phil – but I don’t think he would’ve intimidated Payne Stewart.

Is this Tiger’s week for redemption? He could do it – but I’d be really surprised. Yet, if Woods can be enthusiastic and wise…


Tom Abts
GM and Head Golf Professional