Why I love the US Open

2013 08 Us Open Blog

Birdies? Over-rated. Strategy? Under-valued. There's nowt like the US Open.




Open season: Some people can't bear to watch the US Open but, like the folk above, I absolutely love it


Not a fan of the US Open? Don't worry, there are a lot of people just like you. Many of my friends, in fact, say the US Open is their least favourite major. Me? I absolutely love it - and, in the main, I love it for the same reasons so many people hate it.

The lack of birdies, the extremely tough course set-ups, the sheer brutality of the week to name just three.

If you're looking for wide fairways and roars aplenty, the US Open probably isn't the event for you. If you're looking for the ultimate test of the best players in the world's skills, it absolutely, unquestionably is.

Some people find watching players plot their way round a golf course in an almost defensive fashion a turgid, unrewarding and difficult watch. Frankly, I love it.

I find it utterly fascinating to see the world's best try to plan and strategise their way round a course, rather than just overpower it with brute force.

So many tournaments these days are played on courses measuring upwards of 7,300 yards but, in reality, are only contested over around 1,800 yards. That's the 100 yards closest to each hole. Too often, professional events are 'grip it and rip it' bore-fests which could just as well be played on a par-3 course, such is the lack of protection that many courses have off the tee.

The US Open just isn't like that. Sure, you can probably hit driver on the majority of the par-4s and all of the par-5s. But you need to be deadly accurate. Veering even one yard off-line is like buying a ticket to ride the bogey train. The courses are set-up to be deliberately, extremely and unapologetically tough because the United States Golf Association, which runs the show, has a noted infatuation with par.

As a result, players often play within themselves, which yields few scores in the red figures. Indeed, five out of the last eight winning totals have been par or worse and, interestingly, Tiger Woods is 80-over-par for the tournament in his career. By comparison, he's 42-under in the Open, 51-under in the PGA and 84-under in the Masters. But does all this make the US Open so bad? I don't think it does.

US Open winners are, typically, the players who manage the course best, not the guys who convert the most birdie putts. To me, that makes it a great watch. Strategy, shot-making, course management - those are three of the pillars the game was built on.

It's not for everybody, I get that. But the US Open really is the ultimate test of the game's best players. It is Saving Private Ryan in a world full of events that are Weekend At Bernie's. But that doesn't mean there's not space for it in your DVD collection.

Enjoy it for what it is and, trust me, you'll enjoy it a helluva lot more.

 

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