The U.S. Open: A Father’s Day Diary

 

Come spend the afternoon with Mr. Sunshine.

It’s Father’s Day, which means I’m in front of my TV chewing my fingernails off. My dad is 3,000 miles away doing the same thing. Tiger time. Let’s do this.

5:03: Spent several minutes on the phone cracking Phil jokes to ease the tension. I take issue with the pinstripes – “he’ll suit up for the Yanks tonight.” Pops points out the “bra fat.” Phil, unphased, chips in on 1 for birdie to move to even.

5:05: My money’s on Tiger. I predict 67, though both my dad and I like Dustin Johnson a lot. He reminds me of Josh Beckett, and not just with the intimidating facial hair. He’s got the “Yeah, it’s the World Series. It’s the Yankees. Whatever” mentality. He’s also a solid dresser, unlike, say, Phil Mickelson – who looks like a European gangster from the 1930s… With bra fat.

Phil sans gangsta attire.

5:12: “I guess all that conditioning and working out is paying off for Phil,” says world’s foremost expert on everything, Johnny Miller… Ernie Els and Phil both hit approach shots stiff on 2. Tiger leaves himself a tester on 1. I’ll bet even money you hear the word “ticklish” sometime in the next 90 seconds.

5:16: Tiger misses his 6-foot slider after “one of the worst putts he’s ever hit.” Dan Hicks opts for “delicate” over “ticklish.” Foreboding start on both fronts, or as Miller would say, “The most foreboding start I’ve ever seen.”

Update: Phil at E thru 2; Tiger at E thru 1; Leader Johnson at -6

5:22: Martin Kaymer, who’s just birdied his third in a row to move to +1, is apparently the 12th-ranked player in the world. Kaymer conjures images of beige paint drying and is proof enough that golf needs Tiger Woods… And a little Phil, who just turned an ugly bunker lie into a 10-foot birdie op on 3.

5:34: Sunday’s first ray of light – DJ dumps his approach shot on 2 into a mess of overgrowth short of the green. My joy is quickly zapped by a Tiger snap-hook on 3 and Phil driving the green on 4.

5:38: Second ray of light. Johnson hits two straight shots that I would’ve hit as a 9-year-old: the first a left-handed hozzleknocker out of the fescue and the second a duffed flop shot. Starting to think maybe he’s the 2009 Josh Beckett.

5:41: Check that. Johnson plays four straight Hilson shots. Seven. “Phil the Thrill” three jacks from 15 feet on 4… Tiger drains a 15-footer for par on 3. I’ve awoken the neighbors from their Sunday afternoon nap. Game on.

Update: Tiger at E thru 3; Phil at E thru 4; leader Johnson at -3 thru 2

5:45: If DJ sh*ts himself, it’s going to show through those white pants.

5:47: “That wasn’t just a triple bogey. That was a bad triple bogey,” my father says as Dustin Johnson deploys a search and rescue party to his find his ball on 3. He’s looking square in the eyes of back-to-back triples, as Els stays at -2 with a clutch par putt on 5.

82.

6:03: Text from a friend: “Golf is absurd.” I tell her I’ve been hollering for 20 minutes… Follow-up: “Are you sure it wasn’t from laughing at the commentary?” Brilliant. Even people who don’t watch golf can tell these guys are morons. Great call, Meaghan. Please come back to Gainesville. 

6:09: Ernie Els takes a share of the lead at -3 with Graeme McDowell as Dustin Johnson goes off a cliff at 4… his ball, yeah, but his game, too. He’s looking at triple, double, double, which kinda sounds like a LeBron James stat. That’s never good.

6:19: You know Tiger’s kicking himself right now. The guy hasn’t hit a ball straight all day. Just pulled a “Kramer” on 5 – i.e. popped a whale in the blowhole. I should also point out that Gregory Havret – no. 391 in the world – is a shot off the lead through 5. He’s not gonna win (read: is European), but if he does, it’ll be the biggest French success on American soil since Lafayette’s Revolutionary campaigns.

Update: Phil at E thru 7; Tiger at +2 thru 5; Leaders Els and McDowell at -3

6:29: Text from Pops: “Tiger will birdie 7.”

6:30: Tiger birdies 7. Twenty-five-foot curling bomb.

6:44: Tiger, Ernie and Johnson make a mess out of their respective holes, while aspiring Civil War general Graeme McDowell moves to -4 and is currently looking at an easy two-putt par on 7. Havret, or “Frenchie” as he’s known to my father, drops a shot as well. Davis Love, meanwhile, is setting the three Davis Love fans up for inevitable disappointment. I checked out on Davis when he stepped out of the clubhouse wearing a checkerboard over his shirt.

Graeme McDowell/Colonel Mustard

6:54: Dottie Pepper on Els, who almost fell into the Pacific Ocean trying to find his ball on 10: “I think the key now is not to multiply a mistake.” On cue, Els multiplies his mistake, finding hay with his third shot. All of a sudden, the unassuming Irishman McDowell looks to have a death grip on the Open trophy. Somewhere, Tony Jacklin is wondering why he’s only heard his names 57 times today.

Your '70 champion.

7:08: This Sunday’s turning out to be less of an event than a 10 percent off Memorial Day sale at Kohl’s. I intended to write a post on Tiger Woods, but a bunch of Plain Janes – McDowell, Havret – hijacked my afternoon. Tiger’s “got a chance at a 4” at 10, which would have me mildly enthused if we weren’t talking about a par 4. The Man in Red makes bogey. Again. And if I was in my Gainesville apartment with Hi-Def DVR, I’d probably be watching reruns of “Mad Men” right now. This is an absolute disaster.

7:14: Havret yesterday: “Golf can be hell or paradise.” My thoughts exactly.

7:18: The only thing holding my interest after Tiger’s 38 on the front side is NBC’s promo for “The Event,” which could very well fill the gaping hole that “Lost” left in my network drama life.

7:21: Note to self: Make sure Tiger’s in contention before you commit to a full four hours of Sunday afternoon blogging. WTF?, Hilson.

Update: Leader McDowell at -3 thru 9; Havret at E thru 10; Els at E thru 12

7:26: A shot from NBC’s crack camera crew suggest that Phil is in the market for a corset, which perhaps would help straighten him out off the tee. Mick finds more crab grass on 13, but recovers nicely with a stiff approach to about 15 feet. At this point, I’m actively rooting for Els, who just dropped the f-bomb on 13. I hope Jim Nantz was wearing his earmuffs.

7:34: Dan Hicks: “Tom Watson could be playing this hole in the U.S. Open for the final time.” I’m gonna go out on a limb and guarantee that this is the case, unless Tom’s still shooting his age at 70.

Pure class.

7:45: McDowell still has a two-shot lead on Havret and Els (I know, contain your excitement), after hitting a bunker shot on the par-3 12 to three feet. Tiger briefly quickens my pulse with his birdie attempt at 13. Misses right edge. McDowell finds another fairway, as I settle back into my coma.

7:54: “There you go. Like a champion.” A teary Watson knocks his sand shot to 18 inches on the 72nd hole. I’d muster something to eulogize his brilliant career, but I’m just too damn depressed. Plus, Watson missed the putt.

7:58: Graeme “Ice Cold” McDowell hits the best shot of his round so far – approach on 13 to eight feet. I’m high-fiving people and screaming like a maniac… Just kidding. I’m in my house alone. Checked out 90 minutes ago. I know Pops did the same, because he hasn’t called since 6:30. McDowell whiffs on the putt, as I ponder whether Lance Armstrong really drinks Michelob Ultra.

Update: Els at +1 thru 14; Havret at E thru 13; Mickelson at +1 thru 13; Leader McDowell at -2 thru 12

8:05: Never been in a sleeper hold before.

8:06: Miami Hurricanes Devin Hester and Reggie Wayne cameo on a Sunday Night Football promo. Easily the best part of my afternoon. Easily.

8:08: “Phil has drawn a very good lie here,” says a befuddled Dottie Pepper as Mickelson hits off a pair of electrical wires.

8:10: ’94 and ’97 Open champ Easy E chokes up a lung after knocking stiff his second on the par-4 15. Runs the birdie putt four feet by, while McDowell struggles to find the green on the impossible 550-yard par-5 14. Dan Hicks begins his recap with “If you’re just joining us…” Let me finish: “… you lucked out.” I’m thinking about curse words that don’t even exist right now. And the only possible way this round could get any worse is if Phil Mickelson backdoors his way into a fifth major.

That kind of day.

8:22: “I took a chance, Bones, and it didn’t pay off.” Mick finds more deep stuff on 16, as a glimmer of sunshine touches the darkest part of my soul.

Update: Leader McDowell at -1 thru 15; Havret at E thru 15; Els at +1 thru 16

8:26: Miller observes for the upteenth time that “nobody” is playing well, which makes Tiger’s Sunday suckitude even more difficult to swallow. He’s made strides – as evidenced by Saturday’s back-nine 31 – but days like today would’ve been blood in the water for the Woods of 20 months ago. A disheartening performance anyway you slice (or duck hook) it, though it’s worth noting that he’s still good enough for back-to-back top-5 major finishes to constitute a minor disaster.

Remember this guy?

8:31: Chinese water torture/2010 Open: toss-up.

8:33: “A high hook right at the flagstick,” says a cataracts-stricken Dottie Pepper as Els’ tee shot on the par-3 17 finds sand 20 yards to the left of the hole.

8:43: McDowell, holding on for dear life, calmly two-putts from 50 feet on 16 to stay a shot clear of a sand-going Havret a hole ahead. Meanwhile, Johnny Miller insists that Dustin Johnson will have a hard time sleeping tonight after his 80-ish final round. I disagree. I think he’s passed out with a bottle of Jack by 9.

8:48: Havret pussies up an 8-foot par putt on 17 to fall two back. That was the round in a microcosm. For everybody. Absolutely pitiful. Half-assed, bereft of fireworks, just flat painful. People who hate golf hate golf because of days like today.

Update: Leader McDowell at -1 thru 16; Havret at +1 thru 17

8:56: More crap golf. Els forfeits a shot at victory with a lame attempt from 10 feet for bird. McDowell drops a stroke at 17… Secret icing on cake that nobody’s mentioned: if Tiger chips in for eagle, he jumps into second a shot back. Just sayin’.

SAP looking vigorously for new spokesman.

9:02: No luck for Tiger. Finishes with 75. Havret’s staring down a birdie putt in a bid to become the first Frenchman in 103 years to win the Open… Never seen a guy pull-hook a putt before. McDowell needs five to become the first European since Jacklin in ’70 to take my father’s favorite major. 

9:15: McDowell pulls the strings on his third shot into the par-5 finishing hole. Guy’s cool as a cucumber. Still talking to the camera on his walk up 18… Cozies the put to 10 inches and finishes this day like it began: with a whimper. Here’s salt for your wound – 72 gets Tiger into a Monday playoff.

A star is born... Yeah, probably not.

To all you dads out there: Happy Father’s Day. It’d be nice if you didn’t polish off every single last Corona on your vacation trips home, because just one would really come in handy right about now… I’m sure your sons love you anyway.

– Robbie

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “The U.S. Open: A Father’s Day Diary

  1. Nancy

    Nice commentary; I was worried I’d have to catch up on my golf on ESPN. Also there are still Coronas in Gainesville.

  2. qbytheU

    Sorry about the Corona inventory. Please re-stock before I land next week. I saw enough this week to be picking El Tigre in your favorite event.

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