Well—one winless streak ended on Sunday, but it wasn’t in the golf world: It happened in NASCAR.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. put a stop to his 143-race drought at Michigan during the Quicken Loans 400, and on Father’s Day nevertheless.
I caught the last sixteen laps, because I was busy watching what turned out to be more than a calendar day’s worth of golf over the course of four days, yet beyond the occurrence of NASCAR-fan’s favorite driver finally giving them something to cheer about, I found almost nothing interesting in watching it.
Then I noticed the hood of the car: The Dark Knight Rises. Didn’t think it would be a topic of discussion, either, until Junior himself mentioned it during the post-race interview: “I guess it helped having Batman on the car.” (Okay, so he didn’t mention the film by name, but I think it’s because he shares the same belief I do: That of all of the Christopher Nolan films, the Batman ones have been substandard. I mean, you got Memento, Inception, Insomnia…
Sorry about that; I don’t know what came over me, for I was a split second away from turning this into a film commentary piece—and for what? One car’s hood out of forty-three during a NASCAR race.
Well then, back to business…
How Webb Simpson Watched Himself Win the US Open on Television With the Rest of Us
Webb Simpson was (+5) through two rounds of the US Open, and sure he made the cut, but he certainly wasn’t on anyone’s radar—including heading into Sunday, post hitting a 68 on the day before.
Everyone was busy trying to figure out if it’d be Graeme McDowell or Jim Furyk hoisting the trophy, for they made up the final pairing. More on McDowell later, more on Furyk now…
Furyk didn’t just lose the US Open; he handed it to Simpson on just one hole: The most-likely infamous by now, Hole 16 dead-left tee shot. You have to feel bad for Furyk, because he didn’t even have a bad round, or a bad hole rather: He had one terrible drive, and then, the wheels feel off.
But give credit where credit where credit is due, Simpson posted the lowest score in the clubhouse on Sunday, (+1), and then he watched all the scores come in higher than his. Plus, he got to watch the whole thing unfold on television while sitting there with his beautiful wife. Some things you just can’t write—that’s one of them.
The Oddity of Both Michael Thompson and Graeme McDowell
These two finished in a tie for second at (+2), yet they each got there in relatively differing ways; both players played well enough to win, hypothetically, but Thompson and McDowell continued shooting themselves in the foot, although at their own unique times.
Thompson was the Day One leader, and going out the Back 9 holes on Day Two seemed to be in his favor, even if it wasn’t. He, then, managed to only be two shots back at (+1) following a 75 during Day Two; however, Day Three would be his undoing. Thompson had four bogeys, a double and two birdies, for a round of 74; this also looks worse when you watched him hole a third shot from the fairway on the par 4 Hole 1, to get him back to even par to begin his third outing of the weekend.
For Michael Thompson the secret to success was the Back 9 of all things, for it’s the easier part of the course, yet his best round wasn’t the 66 he shot on Day One. No—it was the 67 on the Sunday that did it for me, because it was the only day in which he conquered the first six holes, something which, if he’d have done that on either Friday or Saturday, Thompson would’ve watched himself win on the tube, not Webb Simpson.
Graeme McDowell had a weird card to hand in every day during this tournament. I cannot get over the fact that I thought he lost this US Open—he and/or Jim Furyk, of course—and that Simpson was more fortunate than victorious.
The man from Northern Ireland kept himself in the running, while at the same time, McDowell constantly picked up bad bogeys to negate his great par-saving play, as well as his birdies. Day Four’s 73 notwithstanding, he gave this thing away by either a.) not shooting lower on Day One, or b.) not posting an even-par 70, like he should’ve, on Friday. Just saying…
Tiger Watch, or the Lack Thereof on Sunday
Tiger Woods was paired with Jim Furyk for Saturday’s third round, that fact is ancient history, yet the story of Tiger over the weekend past doesn’t have many clearer facts than that.
Day Three is the most puzzling for those of us witnessing most of it. I hope I’m not the first one to tell you this, but: Tiger Woods doesn’t miss puts; he misreads greens—something he did entirely too much of on Saturday. And I wish that was the worst of it.
Woods had only one birdie to go with six bogeys, two of which came on par 3’s and one on a par 5, the types of holes at which Tiger normally thrives. Looking back at the card, thought, it doesn’t appear to be what I saw; I mean, he more often than not went tee to fairway to green, yet something was amiss.
He couldn’t read distance on approach shots, and he certainly never got a handle on the ever-changing greens, putting his way out of birdies and pars throughout the round.
Sunday was a nightmare: (+6) through the first six holes followed by (-3) on those that remained—only more to the point that once Tiger gets that head on his shoulders straightened out—not his game, for it’s always been there—he’ll dominate golf once again—proving more and more that Tiger Woods is a man on the precipice of another Major victory.
Events to Come
We have a month of golf before the British Open, or as I like to call it: The actual comeback of Tiger Woods.
So we have the Traveler’s Championship in Connecticut, the AT&T National in Maryland—that’ll be interesting—the Greenbrier Classis in West Virginia and the always fun, always exciting, certainly a good time, John Deere Classic in Illinois.
They’re not all gems, but it’s something to get us through the month before the year’s last Major in Lancashire, England.