Over the past three days, I have been fortunate enough to go out to The Olympic Club, site of this year’s U.S. Open, to watch the festivities of our National Championship firsthand. The United States Golf Association, the overseer of this tournament, have set the already difficult course up in a manner that will make it almost impossible for someone to come in under par over the four day event. The fairways are shaved and undulating and will roll out into the rough ruining good drives. The rough is 4-5 inches long and thick. It is unforgiving and brutal. The greens are lightning fast and are hard and don’t hold very well. This will lead to missed greens and a lot of tricky chip shots. It will lead to a winner who has all the shots and the ability to execute them in the most difficult of situations. This man will be Tiger Woods.
I am not harping on the USGA for the course setup. I actually like the fact that they make our national championship extremely difficult. It is nice that you see some of the world’s best struggling with their games like the average golfer would at his local muni. But, when the course sets up as difficult as it has been over the past couple of days, you eliminate a lot of the field when we talk about potential winners of this championship.
After Day 1, Michael Thompson holds the lead at 4-under par. Thompson, a 2nd year PGA professional played outstanding golf today. He played so magnificently, that no golfer is within three strokes. His putting (22 putts in 18 holes) was pristine. Tiger Woods, Grahame McDowell and Justin Rose are among a group at 1-under par chasing Thompson. Most of the other top players in the world have some work to do to bring themselves back in striking distance of the lead and will have to play flawlessly to have any chance to win (Fowler +2, Westwood +3) . Other big name players are more concerned about making the cut after virtually playing themselves out of the competition after one day (Mickelson +6, McIlroy +7, Watson +8, Donald +9).
If the wind kicks up and any other inclement weather settles in, the winner of this tournament will come in over par. Is that good or bad for golf? Is a war of attrition and high scoring what the golfing public wants to watch or do they want to watch an abundance of birdies and low scores?
I am a fan difficult golf and that is why I think Tiger Woods will win this tournament. When conditions are tough and the course is difficult, Woods has shown the ability to be able to handle it better than his competition. Many will scoff at this notion, but when Woods is on his game (as he was during Round 1); he is extremely difficult to beat.
Others will claim that he is not even in the lead after the first round. I know he’s not and I know it’s early, but when he strikes the golf ball like he did today and putts fairly well in the first round of major’s, he has shown that he is incredibly tough to overcome. If you are telling me that Michael Thompson will hold this lead for the remainder of the tournament, I have some beachfront property in Phoenix to sell you. Others will challenge, but Woods will outlast them and finish the Championship in first place.
When Tiger Woods hoists the trophy up at the end of this tournament, it will mark the true beginning of his return to dominance on tour. Sunday’s result will put Tiger within true striking distance of Jack Nicklaus’ major tournament record and the talk will begin again about Woods and his golf game becoming fearsome and revered.
About the Author
Written by Michael Jenkins
I was born and raised in Phoenix, AZ. Graduated from THE University of Arizona. I now reside part time in San Francisco, CA. I am a diehard Phoenix Coyotes fan (season ticket holder since Day 1) and a diehard Chelsea FC fan. I am passionate, energetic and highly grateful to get the opportunity to work in this business again.