The Choke (U.S.) Open…

Posted: June 18, 2012 in sports

You can’t watch the U.S. Open and not keep thinking of the word choke.

In the world of sports, choke is probably the ugliest word you can use to describe failure and no sporting event brings choking like our national golf championship.

Suddenly world class players can’t hit greens with wedges. Bunker shots become comic routines. Three-foot putts become high drama. Admittedly, the Open courses are set up as the most difficult tests of golf year in and year out, but, still, many of the misses are simply bad shots and the pressure of the Open is the only reasonable explanation.

Tiger Woods looked more like Cheyenne Woods during the weekend. Accordingly to the experts, Tiger already had his 4th Open and 15th major championship in the bag when the world went to sleep Friday night. Not quite. He finished 75-73 and tied for 21st. Dare I say it: The golfer previously known as Tiger the Greatest Ever no longer exists.

Jim Furyk, known for being cool, calm and steady, probably hit the worst drive of his impressive career on No. 16 when his 2nd Open title was his for the taking. Then he played 18 like an 18-handicapper and finished tied for 4th.

Greame McDowell, the ’10 Open champ and one of the world’s most accurate drivers, managed to hit three fairways in the final round and tied for 2nd.

Ernie Els and Paddy Harrington have each won three majors, but both wilted in the heat of Open competition.

The world’s top two ranked players, Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy, missed the cut. Hall of Famer Phil Mickelson is still without a U.S. Open championship after starting with a 76 and closing with a 78.

This isn’t to say Webb Simpson is an unworthy champion. He won twice on the PGA Tour last year. His future likely will include many more Tour victories and maybe a few more majors. His 68-68 weekend was the stuff of champions, but he would have remained an afterthought – he was tied for 29th after 36 holes — if some of the finest golfers on the planet hadn’t melted in the Open pressure cooker.

The 112th U.S. Open reaffirmed an old cliché about our national golf championship, also known as the Choke Open. You don’t win the Open. You lose it less than anyone else.

  1. Sean Breslin says:

    The U.S. Open is usually so tough that it only makes choking that much easier.

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