June 12, 2008

THIRD TIME A CHARM? [all entries by noon Thursday]:

108th U.S. Open Championship Preview (Gerard Gallagher, 6/09/08, The Sports Network)

The fairways will be typically narrow for a U.S. Open, ranging in width from about 24 yards to 33 yards at their widest. Where the players will get a little bit of a break this year is in the rough.

In the third round at Winged Foot two years ago, Colin Montgomerie made a double-bogey at the par-three third after he found the deep rough in front of a greenside bunker, duffed a flop shot into that bunker, then two-putted for a five.

"Bloody hell!" were just two of the descriptive words the Scotsman shouted.

The deepest rough at Winged Foot that year -- the stuff Monty was hitting from -- was cut to about six inches. It was difficult enough to just walk through the grass, let alone take a shot out of it. The USGA cut the deep rough at Oakmont to the same length last year.

This year, in line with its "penalty fits the crime" plan for U.S. Opens, the USGA will cut three bands of rough on both sides of the fairways to different lengths. But the longest rough will measure only 3 1/2 inches -- nearly half the length of the last two years.

Things get tougher around the greens, however, where any shot more than 12 feet offline will find rough cut to four inches.

This type of grooming is just one of the reasons Tiger Woods claimed the Average Joe wouldn't have been able to break 100 at last year's U.S. Open, when Angel Cabrera's winning score was a five-over 285.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, singer Justin Timberlake, "Today" host Matt Lauer and amateur John Atkinson, stricken with inoperable lung cancer, set out to prove Woods wrong.

They did, and they didn't.

Playing at Torrey Pines last week, Romo shot a 13-over 84 and Timberlake had a 27-over 98. Lauer landed right on the number at 100, and Atkinson shot a 114.

So two of the players actually broke 100, and Romo's score will probably end up looking OK to some of the players who are sure to struggle this weekend (six players posted scores of 85 or worse at Oakmont, including 2002 PGA Championship winner Rich Beem).

But none of them were able to make a birdie at Torrey Pines, showing the U.S. Open course is manageable for the very good amateur golfer, but not conquerable.

So who's got the game -- and the intangibles -- to win this week?

After failing miserably at picking the last two legs of the Triple Crown, we've still got two copies of Steven Pressfield's new novel, Killing Rommel, to give away (courtesy of Authors on the Web). We're big fans and this one looks like a combo of The Eagle Has Landed and Rogue Male.

Pick your top three finishers at the US Open [I'll take Tiger, Fat Phil & Pete Harrington] we'll give out some more books.

-ESSAY: The Last Honorable War (Steven Pressfield, April 24, 2008, Military.com)
INTERVIEW: World Class novelist Steven Pressfield previews his latest masterpiece, Killing Rommel (Hugh Hewitt, May 02, 2008)
-PODCAST: Steven Pressfield's New Book "Killing Rommel" (Military.com, May 6, 2008)
-REVIEW: of Killing Rommel: A Novel of War by Stephen Pressfield (Mark Whittington, published May 07, 2008 , Associated Content)
-REVIEW: of Killing Rommel (Kirkus Reviews)
-REVIEW: of Killing Rommel (Michael Lee, BookPage)

Zemanta Pixie

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 12, 2008 12:04 PM

Big Brown & Yankee Bravo

Posted by: Jim Siegel at June 3, 2008 6:03 PM

Big Brown & Yankee Bravo (who said a Red Sox fan can't root for a Yankee?)

Posted by: Jim Siegel at June 3, 2008 6:12 PM

I'll play safe and say Big Brown/Casino Drive.

Posted by: PapayaSF at June 4, 2008 12:28 AM

Big Brown and Casino Drive

Posted by: Bartman at June 4, 2008 8:17 AM

I didn't look to see if anyone had my pick before I posted. If we aren't allowed to pick an already picked pair (of pickled peppers) I'll go out on a limb and say

Casino Drive and Denis of Cork...

Posted by: Bartman at June 4, 2008 8:19 AM

Gayego and Big Brown

Posted by: Brandon at June 4, 2008 10:52 AM

Stupid comments in the article re: the Belmont. The guy may be an economist ... but he knows nothing about the history of thoroughbred racing, how the sport/breeding has changed things, or that Secretariat was an anomoly physically, and lastly: the Triple Crown is not supposed to be easy!

Posted by: Edgelady at June 4, 2008 1:21 PM

Big Brown/Denis of Cork

Meanwhile, the headline blurb at ESPN Horseracing this morning is:

"Casino Drive was pulled as a precaution his human handlers say."

His "human" handlers? What other kind of handlers would the horse have? And even if he did have "animal" handlers, I suspect they wouldn't be saying much of anything at all -- unless he had Mr. Ed I guess.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at June 7, 2008 8:24 AM

Well, with my second pick scratched (Casino Drive) I'll make my pick (if allowed)

Big Brown and Denis of Cork

Posted by: Bartman at June 7, 2008 9:10 AM

Big Brown

Posted by: mgarbowski at June 7, 2008 5:25 PM

Once again I have to protest the egregious decision to change the Belmont post parade theme from Sidewalks of NY.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at June 7, 2008 5:47 PM

Tiger Woods
Angel Cabrera
Padraig Harrington

Posted by: Mike Morley at June 10, 2008 7:09 AM

I'll make my Open picks later, but I will say that there are surely 10-handicap members at Oakmont who would have broken 100 last year (ditto for Winged Foot the year before). Other than the deeper rough, the course is not that different from what the members there play every day. It was amusing to hear Tiger and Furyk gripe about the course afterwards (and the 'masochism' of the members), knowing that the members would be out there the next day, with narrower fairways and possibly faster greens.

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 10, 2008 8:03 AM

Tiger, Sergio, Romero

Posted by: Foos at June 10, 2008 2:38 PM

Sergio, Phil, Padraig

Posted by: ratbert at June 10, 2008 4:56 PM

Tiger, Mickelson, Garcia

Posted by: JohnV at June 11, 2008 7:53 AM

Allenby, Appleby, Sergio.

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 11, 2008 10:32 AM

Mickelson, Harrington, Rose

Posted by: JimBobElrod at June 11, 2008 9:30 PM