Keeping Score

From the Morning Read inbox

‘The worst entertainment in golf’

Well, Gary Van Sickle, you rang my chimes again (“Kinder, gentler U.S. Open? Not at Shinnecock,” June 11).

I am not of the belief that our Open should be a bloodbath and the best golfers in the world should be reduced to blathering, bumbling hackers. Former USGA chief Joe Dey and the guys had their “fun,” and we watched guys hack out of 8-inch rough for a couple of decades.

As a viewer, I always considered the U.S. Open to be the worst entertainment in golf, right behind the waterfalls and windmills of the Masters, although the cream usually does rise to the top at Augusta National, and it usually is good theater. But when you have Andy North, Lee Janzen and Webb Simpson winning U.S. Opens, I think you’re on the wrong track.

I have no trouble with Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka as Open champions. Yes, it should be a stern test, and I love fast and firm, but the weather doesn’t always cooperate. So, not a birdie fest, but when you put 156 of the best golfers in the world on a course that’s a good test, 2, 3 or 4 under per day is quite reasonable.

TV analysts Brandel Chamblee, David Duval and maybe even Justin Leonard couldn’t break 80 on any Open layout, so if you see them, let them know to put their sadistic predilections in their pocket and just zip it. 

John T. Doyle
Lakeland, Fla.


USGA needs to own its ’04 failure

Much is being written about the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills (“Open question: Can USGA avoid errors of ’04?” June 12). USGA chief Mike Davis has suggested that the setup was “a bogey last time, maybe a double bogey.” Let's be clear: this was not a bogey or a double. It was an “X” on the scorecard. An abject failure. Heads should have rolled at several levels. 

To change the course conditions after some competitors already had played disadvantaged them and advantaged their opponents. No, it doesn't matter whether only one player or a hundred were affected.

What is that phrase, “protecting the field”? Well, during the final round of the 2004 U.S. Open, the field was not protected. The USGA continues to deny the magnitude of what it did that day. 

Blaine Walker
St. Paul, Minn.


Ease up on U.S. Open rancor

Everyone gets it that the green on hole No. 7 at the U.S. Open in 2004 at Shinnecock Hills should have been circled in white as ground under repair. Enough already!

For all other complaints about course selection, setup, conditions, length, ad infinitum, let me remind you that more than 9,000 applied to play in the U.S. Open this year, similar to every other year. No one forces these guys to register online and pay the $200 fee. If the tournament were so terrible, nobody would play.

Jim Kavanagh
St. Augustine, Fla.


The more, the Merion

John Hawkins says about the U.S. Open venue: “… Merion (2013) a bit of a disappointment” (“U.S. Open deserves an all-star rotation,” June 12)

I couldn't disagree more. Merion had everything the golf pundits keep asking for: a venue that doesn't cater simply to the long-ball hitters; yardage under 7,000; and a winning score near par, 1 over, by Justin Rose.

What more can you want?

This was a wonderful tournament, with a variety of holes that challenged the golfers in a variety of ways: doglegs, creeks, fescue and elevation changes. There was trouble everywhere. Even the simplest-looking hole proved bothersome as Phil Mickelson flew a par-3 green entirely, practically knocking him out of contention. And then Rose was faced with a long-iron shot on 18 to seal the victory. And he did it.

Merion definitely should be part of that rota that Hawkins envisions.

Tim Schobert
Ottawa, Ontario


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