When it comes to golf's four majors, everyone's always looking for the big story.
At last weekend's U.S. Open there were definitely a few. Unfortunately, the excitement that built around all of them was washed out by rain, then eventually by the golfers in the storylines themselves.
The tournament started with torrential downpours, screwing up the entire rhythm for the whole event, not to mention everyone playing.
All week preceding we relived last year's Rocco-Tiger battle. Tiger faltered on day one posting a 74. Rocco looked as confident as ever in his opening round with a 68, only to have to wait then play another nine the same afternoon where he quickly gave five shots back and then never contended again. Tiger did his best to make runs as the weekend wore on, but never mounted the charge we've come to expect. Rocco's age showed in all the extra holes over the weekend and he finished in the back of the pack after making the cut.
Storyline No. 1 bites the dust.
Mike Weir posted an opening round 64, which could've easily been 62 and finally put a cork in Johnny Miller's mouth about his stupid 63 back when who the hell cares? But Weir hit some bumps and wasn't even the sole leader after his opening round. Then he hit some more bumps, and eventually fell out of the picture.
Storyline No. 2 shanked out of bounds.
As the tournament continued, the very unknown Ricky Barnes, painters cap and all, reached double digits under par. It was almost like watching Tin Cup. Who is this Nationwide guy? And how in the world is he pulling this off? Unfortunately, I didn't talk to a single person in the golf know that thought under any circumstance he was going to be able to keep up his record-setting pace, and Barnes proved everyone right by hitting the ball everywhere except the fairway for basically 15 holes in the final round to collapse into U.S. Open trivia obscurity. But don't feel bad for Ricky. I'm sure not going to. Not after he walked away with over a half-million dollars.
Regardless, Storyline No. 3 gets caught in the thick stuff.
Monday morning I awoke to watch the final round. With each hole it seemed more and more like something special was going to happen. It even seemed like maybe Tiger might make a run, but he couldn't make a putt. No, the big Storylines on Monday were Phil Mickelson and David Duval.
Mickelson was obviously the fan-favorite. His wife recently having been diagnosed with breast cancer, even Phil-haters, myself included, were pulling for Lefty to not trudge away his chance to win the Open. And yet, like so many other times in the U.S. Open (now five to be exact), Phil did just that. His par miss on 17 took the breath out of almost everyone. It was still an inspiring performance.
However, Storyline No. 4 trudged away per usual.
Then there was the 800-something ranked David Duval. The world's former No. 1 who hadn't done squat in more than seven years. Everyone, again also myself included, thought that Duval's first round was an aberration. No way he was going to be able to keep that up. I've followed Duval over the past few years, mostly because I follow John Daly and their names have been next to one another at the bottom of leaderboards that they were granted sponsor's exemptions to. He hasn't done a thing, and for seven years he really hasn't had an excuse. He just faded into obscurity all the while telling everyone for years how well he was hitting the ball and not scoring. I love David Duval, but that line got played out about five years ago, and he was still saying it all weekend.
Duval arguably played the best golf of anyone at Bethpage, but simply couldn't get a break. His triple-bogey on his first hole after his tee shot plugged under the lip of the bunker was total USGA garbage. The organizers added sand to the traps before the tournament. That's fine, but you can't throw four inches of it straight up the lip of the bunker. Yes, Duval could've avoided it all by missing the sand in the first place, but that was simply unfair. If anyone had anything to be upset about after the round it was Duval, but he took the high road. He kept plugging away and eventually found himself with a share of the lead, only to hit every side of the cup on 17 without the ball going in leading to a bogey and eventually a second-place finish.
Storyline No. 5 plugged in the beach.
So who did that leave us with as U.S. Open Champion? Lucas "it's easier to watch paint dry than watch him play golf" Glover. He won the U.S. Open and you would've thought the guy didn't even win on a scratch off lotto ticket. We haven't had this boring of a major winner since, well, Trevor Immelman, Zach Johnson, Geoff Ogilvy, Angel Cabrera, the list goes on.
I think last year's Rocco-Tiger battle, which spawned endless television specials not to mention an entire book, spoiled us all. There was more drama in those five days last year than in every major since. Hopefully in the year's final two, the British Open and PGA Championship, we can get a Storyline to play out like it did last year. And with all due respect to Lucas Glover, we need a winner to show more emotion than a bucket of balls on the range.
E-mail B.J. Lisko at firstname.lastname@example.org