Sunday, June 4, 2023

On Golf: Open Reminders of What Really Matters in US Golf

BROOKLINE, Mass ( Associated Press) — A week that began with Phil Mickelson saying no, ended with a momentary loss for words with Matt Fitzpatrick at his proudest moment.

The US Open was just a diversion from the disruption in golf.

It brought meaning to the game.

“No words,” Fitzpatrick said after a shot that would become part of US Open lore. He hit a 9-iron from behind a lip into a fairway bunker on the 18th hole of Brookline, settling 18 feet behind the pin, and won his one-shot.

“It’s what you grew up dreaming of,” he said. “It’s something I’ve worked so hard on for so long. To win the first in America, and to do it in a major, there’s nothing better.”

Sure, some money matters were mentioned on Sunday. Fitzpatrick won the US Amateur at The County Club in 2013, which brought a gold trophy and the chance to play in the three majors. The title brought in $3.15 million, the largest purse in US Open history.

Masters Champion and world No. 1 player, Scotty Schaeffler, finished second with Will Zalatoris and earned over $1.5 million. This allowed Schaeffler to set a single-season PGA Tour record for nearly $12.9 million, easily breaking the Jordan Spieth set in 2015—and there are still two full months to go.

Charl Schwartzel won $4.75 million competing in the Saudi-funded LIV Golf Series a week ago. It was 54 holes without a cut, a 48-man field that included only four players from the top 50 in the world rankings.

No one would mistake that for the toughest test in golf.

It took Greg Norman the opening round of the US Open to divert attention from the money grab and bring it back to the highest level of competition. But it was worth the wait. This US Open was given in many ways.

The country club, hosting its fourth US Open and first since 1988, devised a perfect test to identify the best player of the week. There was ample length on par 4s, a par 3 that adjusted for height which was played under 100 yards and greens that contained only the best shots.

It was the fourth consecutive year that Fitzpatrick became the first major champion at the US Open, though Fitzpatrick was hardly a surprise. He knew Brookline as well as anyone in six games to win the US Open, and it was his fourth top-10 finish in his last five tournaments. He was in the last group in his second straight Major.

Contenders featured four of the top seven players in the world over the weekend. It also had three players in the top 10 in the top finals, who had to go through 36-hole qualifying to reach the US Open. One of them was Denny McCarthy, who made the cut at number one and the 68–68 weekend took him to a seventh-place tie.

And it was a week after winning the Canadian Open, golf’s fourth oldest national open, in a tense duel with Justin Thomas.

LIV Golf and its theme of being a “force for good” will return. The only thing swirling off the air over the weekend were more rumors about which players would be the latest to try to cash in.

Only four players who had previously been in the LIV event made the cut out of 17 at the US Open. The best finish came from Dustin Johnson, who birdied two of his last three holes to finish 24th.

Bryson DeChambeau wasn’t in London — he signed up with LIV Golf a week before the US Open and will be out of Portland, Oregon at the end of the month. He completed his final round before the leaders collided and made three birdies in his weekend round of 76–75.

As for Mickelson? He didn’t even arrive till the weekend. not to worry. His next tournament in the LIV series has no cuts, just a lot of money and little relevance.

Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick was waiting a while to decompress from golf and was wrapping his head around the notion that he was a major champion, the third from England in the last decade, with Danny Willett (2016 Masters) and Justin Willett (2016 Masters). Rose (2013 US Open). ,

He is ranked number 10 in the world, a career-high, and can finally celebrate victory in America. Zalatoris faced another close call – his third runner-up in the last seven majors – while Schaeffler has a Masters Green Jacket and a US Open silver medal. It’s been a great year.

They meet again in a month in St Andrews for the British Open, the 150th staged at the home of golf, the sport’s oldest championship.

It can’t get here soon enough.

“You’ve imagined being in the position that you’ve been in your whole life, and now I’ve been in a major basically three times,” Zalatoris said. “That’s why you play the game. There is nothing like that. ,


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