SPORTSCASTER DAN PATRICK ALWAYS poses the same question at the end of his syndicated sports radio talk show: “What did we learn today?”
That’s what I’m trying to figure out about the first day of the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Probably not a lot. Course hard. Players struggle. Scores high. Maybe I’ve watched too many of these things. I’ve certainly watched a bunch. But I’m still way way behind Dan Jenkins. I’ll have to live to about 100 to catch up with him.
“This is my 57th Open,” Jenkins wrote on Twitter, “and unless something starts happening soon, this might be the most boring first round ever.”
Was that it? Was I bored? Or was I lulled into a stupor by the postcard weather on the Monterey Peninsula? Pebble Beach is distractingly beautiful.
I must try, so here goes, a few things I learned today. Sort of.
I learned Tiger Woods can still hit a fairway with his driver. On the holes I watched Tiger, he actually controlled his golf ball quite well. Unfortunately, he’s 3-over par and carded no birdies. Tiger will probably say he didn’t get much out of his round. (He’s not alone.) If his swing holds together and he gets his putter going, it could be interesting. There are a lot of “ifs” on Thursday.
I learned the golf course will be a stubborn defender of par, just as you’d expect in a U.S. Open. I would have anticipated a few scores in the 60s in the first round, but it’s not happening. (OK, now Shaun Micheel, Paul Casey and Brendon de Jonge are on the board with 69s.) The last time I checked, the average score was about 75, or 4-over par.
I learned Pebble Beach is brutalful. That’s my new word for the course, a combination of brutal and beautiful.
I learned I like watching anybody (except those crazy celebs at the AT&T) play at Pebble Beach because it’s just so gorgeous. I mean, Tiger is getting ready to hit and I find myself watching the crashing waves and ocean spray in the background. Pebble’s scenic beauty can completely take me out of my spectator game. Surely I’ll care more about the outcome of the tournament in a couple of days. By Sunday, I hope to be tense. I need to have that feeling during a major or two.
I learned of an amateur named Hudson Swafford.
I learned Ryan Moore can make bogey on the par-3 17th from perched near the sign on the cliff-like 18th tee. My daughter, who has a flair for the dramatic, asked, “Would he die if he fell from there?”
No, but four rounds on hard, dry, wind-swept Pebble Beach in the U.S. Open might kill him and a few others. It’s only going to get harder.
−The Armchair Golfer
(Image: Keith Allison/Flickr)