BROOKLINE, MASSACHUSETTS | The U.S. Open needs to come home to The Country Club more often.
In one of the rarer developments of any U.S. Open week, there was very little, if any, whining about the golf course or the setup or logistics. The weather was exceptional while also posing challenges for the field. The course had a rhythm and flow, with stretches where players needed to hang on and others where they could try to attack.
“The course is perfect, absolutely perfect,” said Shane Lowry. “It’s a proper U.S. Open. The USGA has done a great job here this week.”
“It’s true living history on this golf course; you’re taking steps on holes that some greats have in the past,” said Jon Rahm. “It’s kind of like going to Augusta or a place like Riviera, Colonial – courses that have been hosting events for a long time and are part of this game.”
The Country Club didn’t need to be tricked up to provide a proper test for modern players using modern equipment. It held its own in one of the most sports-obsessed towns in the world, drawing the attention from Boston fans in the same week that the Celtics lost the NBA championship at the Garden on Thursday and the Red Sox played every night at Fenway Park.
The USGA already has announced 18 future venues through 2051, including 12 of the next 15 through 2037. It has declared three “anchor sites,” with five upcoming dates already set for Pinehurst No. 2 and four each for Pebble Beach and Oakmont. TCC – one of five founding clubs and a host to 17 USGA men’s, women’s, junior and team championships – could fit the anchor criteria.
Let’s not wait another 34 years to return to Brookline. The USGA and Brookline, for whatever reasons, blew it by not hosting the centennial of Francis Ouimet’s watershed win in 2013. It shouldn’t make that mistake again. Sixteen years from now in 2038 will be 125 years since Ouimet and 50 since Curtis Strange. The date is available. Book it.
BIRDIE: Matt Fitzpatrick. Two comparisons any golfer would covet. Fitzy joined Jack Nicklaus (Pebble Beach) as the only men to win the U.S. Open and Amateur on the same golf course. And he’s first since Sandy Lyle at the 1988 Masters to make par or better from a fairway bunker on the 72nd hole to win a major by one shot.
BIRDIE: The Fulton family. The Fitzpatricks have twice been hosted by family of the general chair at The Country Club, winning USGA titles on both occasions. Any chance the Fultons have a second home in Augusta, Georgia or St. Andrews, Scotland?
BIRDIE: Brits in Mass. King George lost the war after the Tea Party. Harry Vardon and Ted Ray suffered defeat to local amateur. Nick Faldo lost a playoff to Strange. Ryder Cup captain Mark James got trampled by record American comeback. Finally Fitzpatrick has conquered Yanks at TCC.
BOGEY: Four-letter ruling. Justin Thomas got an unsympathetic ruling with no relief from a drain in the No. 4 fairway. His profane two-word assessment came in loud and clear on the broadcast blaring in the merchandise tent, eliciting a collective gasp from the shoppers.
BIRDIE: Will Zalatoris. Six top-10s in eight majors since 2020 including runner-up finishes in the Masters, PGA and U.S. Open. Still looking for that first PGA Tour win. The 25-year-old truly is a “major specialist.”
BOGEY: Billy Horschel. He’s won multiple playoff events, FedEx Cup, WGC, European BMW PGA and this month’s Memorial. But in 35 major starts he has just one top 10. MC-hammered at Brookline.
PAR: Rory McIlroy. Collected his third top 10 in a major this year and his fourth straight in the U.S. Open. “Another top-five in a major; I guess doesn’t really mean anything,” he said after his victory drought extended to 29 majors.
BIRDIE: McIlroy. Along with a vanguard of loyalists such as Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, McIlroy has established himself as the conscience of the competitive soul of the sport in the face of LIV greed. Never has simply “doing the right thing” looked so noble.
BOGEY: Cam Smith and Viktor Hovland. The only OWGR top-10 players to miss the cut. Hovland was on leaderboard at 2-under through seven holes Saturday morning before making nine bogeys in his last 11 holes.
BIRDIE: Billy Foster. The veteran caddie has suffered so many close calls and major misses with Lee Westwood, Thomas Bjørn and others. He finally got to take home a major flag, kissing it before removing it from the 18th pin. “Just pure, utter relief,” Foster said. “I have the monkey off my back, but it feels more like a gorilla.”
BOGEY: Jon Rahm. His momentum never recovered from the double bogey with which he ended his third round to lose the lead. It was a still a valiant defense effort.
BIRDIE: Irish pandering. As if Shane Lowry weren’t already a fan favorite among Boston’s brawny Irish community, the Celtics logo on the back of his Thursday shirt with Game 6 on tap across town at TD Garden was a touch of perfect. Sláinte.
BOGEY: Phil Mickelson. Once so confident in his stature as one of the most beloved fan favorites in golf, Lefty has been reduced to a stammering husk of his former self. His evasive press conference was cringe-worthy in its awkwardness. It was sad to watch.
BIRDIE: Wee par-3s. Included in the Open Course at TCC for the first time since Ouimet won in 1913, the 11th hole played as long as 141 yards and as short as 108. It flummoxed the best players in the world, yielding more bogeys (79) and doubles (3) than birdies (72).
BOGEY: Brooks Koepka. The older brother of LIV signee Chase blamed the media for the existential crisis created by a breakaway faction and its immediate suspensions from the PGA Tour being a “black cloud” during the U.S. Open buildup. He said everything except state his commitment to where he’ll play.
BIRDIE: Fernandomania. The club’s signature rum cocktail was flowing freely in the clubhouse, and a limited-edition hat with the Fernando logo on it was the hottest item for members.
Big day over in Brookline at The Country Club as we get set for the @usopengolf.@NBC10Boston's @MelodyNBCBoston has the story of a drink there. Not just any drink. It's "The Fernando" & while it looks fabulous, it's more about the man who invented it. I recommend watching! pic.twitter.com/nWF05DpY8z
— Raul Martinez (@RaulNBCBoston) June 16, 2022
BOGEY: LIV golfers. Only four of the 15 LIV-signed golfers made the cut, scoring a combined 35-over with Dustin Johnson finishing the highest at T27. Their combined earnings were $292,730 – hardly worth all the hard work they had to put into playing four days.
BIRDIE: Keegan Bradley. Native New Englander threw out the first pitch at a Red Sox game and contended in front of friends and family at The Country Club. “I’m tapped out. What a week. I had the best time,” said Bradley after failing to get one more thing in common with Ouimet (both won their major debuts).
BOGEY: James Piot. The 2021 U.S. Amateur champion showed up for his exemption into the USGA’s flagship event wearing a LIV logo sweater with his initials on it during a practice round. He missed the cut. Piot made $163,000 for finishing 7-over par in his LIV debut.
LIV’s answer to Si Woo Kim’s LUP line? James Piot on the driving range in a LIV Golf sweater with his initials on it. pic.twitter.com/PwcwdlXfls
— TheShotgunStart (@TheShotgunStart) June 15, 2022
BIRDIE: Scottie Scheffler. With his third runner-up and four wins this season, Scheffler already broke Jordan Spieth’s PGA Tour record for most money won (excluding bonuses) with $12,896,849.
BOGEY: Sam Horsfield. The young LIV-ster beaned a fan from the adjacent sixth hole, but it was Mickelson on No. 3 who apologized and signed a glove for the guy on the ground with an ice pack to his head. “It’s just instinct,” Mickelson said. “I would normally think it’s me.”
BIRDIE: Hideki Matsuyama. His Sunday 65 was the low round of the week and vaulted him from T17 to solo fourth.
BOGEY: Nike shirts. Maybe it’s just Brookline that inspires sartorial abominations since the 1999 Ryder Cup, but the Nike flowery print worn by McIlroy and others lived up to the name primula vulgaris.
BIRDIE: No-names. TCC’s features allowed many strategies and styles to factor. Guys such as Callum Tarren, Matt NeSmith, Hayden Buckley and MJ Daffue (or as DJ called him “That one guy who was leading for a little while”) featured prominently at times.
"I'm coming right over you, sir."
— U.S. Open (USGA) (@usopengolf) June 17, 2022
BOGEY: Grayson Murray. Simply beating Kevin Na by making the cut wasn’t enough. His furious overhand launch of his putter into the fescue on Sunday was followed a little later by snapping his wedge across his knee.
BIRDIE: Joel Dahmen. A laid-back American tour character had a respectable T10 showing after sharing the 36-hole lead. His popular star power is growing, but only so much. “I haven’t autographed a boob yet,” he said.
BOGEY: Joohyung Kim. A player so slow that vintage Bernhard Langer would get impatient, “Too Long” Kim needed only seven holes to get his first-round grouping put on the clock. Koepka, who seethingly endured J.B. Holmes at Portrush, shot 75 paired with Kim on Saturday.
BIRDIE: Collin Morikawa. Considering he’s currently lost his tried-and-true baby cut and had to fashion a makeshift baby draw instead, a pair of 66s and a T5 finish is pretty good.
BOGEY: NBC. The network that paid pennies on the dollar to take over the U.S. Open from Fox seemed intent on squeezing more commercials than golf shots into the broadcast. USGA CEO Mike Whan promises to fix that: “I’m on it!”
I’m on it! We have the best sports production team in the world here with our partner NBC Sports (Olympics, Super Bowl, etc.) and if the amount of interruptions are problematic, we will work with our partner to do better!
— Michael Whan (@USGAMike) June 19, 2022
BIRDIE: Rolex. The watchmaker came to the rescue for golf fans watching at home on Sunday by paying to present the last scintillating hour of television coverage commercial-free.
BOGEY: Sergio García. LIV bought itself a golfer who has missed the cut in 13 of 20 majors since winning the Masters in 2017. Just saying.
BIRDIE: USGA/TCC. With its Lee Elder diversity internships and a program to present “the most environmentally sustainable U.S. Open to date,” the organization and club emphasized and addressed two very pressing issues in the game and beyond.
Top: Matt Fitzpatrick (Photo: James Gilbert, USGA)
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