ERIN, WISCONSIN – They weren’t quite the three wise men but they were two men and a woman who didn’t mind eating humble pie publicly and admitting that there had been issues at the 2015 U.S. Open and again at last year’s and they were sorry.
They did this in a way that is rarely heard. They didn’t shirk the issues or sugarcoat them. They met them head on and apologised. There was an air of mea culpa, mea maxima in the air. And so were the words, “we know we must do better.”
“We know we’ve had some issues the past two years,” Mike Davis, executive director and CEO of the USGA, said.
“I think last year there were … things we fell short on,” John Bodenhamer, senior managing director of rules, competition and equipment standards at the USGA, said.
“They could be terribly defensive and say, ‘Wow, we got it right and it’s everybody else’s fault,’ ” Diana Murphy, the president of the USGA, said. “Or they could come together and say, ‘What can we do differently?’ There is no question that the (USGA) went deep into assessing where did we miss it and what can we do differently.”
And so the 117th U.S. Open started with the organising body more on edge than ever. This was the U.S. Open that the USGA had to get right.
It could scarcely have started better on Thursday. Fluffy white clouds raced across the sky, driven by a mischievous light wind. The course that had been closed since October last year looked pristine, the greens both looked good and ran true and there were no mutterings about the fescue, wispy or not.
Things may change over the ensuing days but it should be recorded after the changes the USGA had put into place, after their internal investigations into what had gone wrong in the two previous Opens, that it seemed as though they had gotten it right, for now.
“There may be something else we didn’t think of this year,” Davis said on the eve of the championship, adding, with a degree if heartfelt hope, “but I think we’re going to see a wonderful championship and a terrific championship ending on Father’s Day Sunday.”
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