Sports Commentary 6/17/13
The U.S. Open is history, now, it’s Traveler’s week in Cromwell
THE TRAVELERS CHAMPIONSHIP, WHERE THE GAME IS THE THING
The top three golfers in the world rankings won’t be in Cromwell this week. They probably need a break after finishing a combined 42 strokes over par at the U.S. Open. The Open champion will be here, however, Justin Rose joining 155 other golfers in pursuit of the Travelers Championship title beginning Thursday at the TPC River Highlands. Travelers Championship week officially gets underway in less than an hour with opening ceremonies at the first tee at 9:00. There’s a purity to golf at the PGA Tour level, when the distractions of a major championship are removed. Every event does come with it’s side stories, and there will be some good ones this week, as there always are, but there won’t be a lot of stretching to create stories that don’t exist, the golf will be allowed to speak for itself. Too much of the U.S. Open was camouflaged in stories that were more wishful thinking on the part of a pandering media than reality. Until the lead groups hit the back nine of the final round at least as much attention was paid over the weekend to a golfer who’s finished more than 20 over par in his last two tournaments, and was never in the hunt at the Open almost from the time the weekend rounds teed off, as was given to the four players actually in the hunt. Tiger Woods was four shots off the pace opening play on Saturday, but there was never any doubt he was there, with live television coverage of his car arriving in the parking lot, his arrival in the practice area and his tee time after a complete video recap of his second round, the second of his four straight over par rounds on the way to a 13 over, 12 back finish that had him on his way out of Ardmore, Pennsylvania long before Justin Rose was crowned the champion of the 113th edition. Nothing kept NBC from giving it’s audience as much live coverage of Tiger’s dismal final round as could be humanly squeezed in among those irritating tape delays of other more important shots. While the analysis going in and in the early stages of the Open was that the short course with it’s quirky twists and turns played right into Tiger’s game, giving him an edge on the field, the reality was it took Tiger’s long hitting advantage out of play and the part of his game that has been his undoing of late, on and around the greens, would be the most important factor. His recent failings from in close were once again evident. That was the only real story Tiger wrote at Merion, while Justin Rose was writing history, the first Englishman in 43 years to win the U.S. Open, breaking a drought of 68 majors without a winner from that country, and Phil Mickelson was writing history, with his sixth U.S. Open runner up. Even history takes a back seat when Tiger Woods is 13 over par. Golf returns to it’s purest form this week in Cromwell, where Rose will go for back to back wins and the stories will be allowed to write themselves, after the daily network coverage opens with shots of a golfer who’s never played our course, the only golfer at the far end of their tunnel vision. This is our week on the PGA Tour, and we love it for what it is, golf in it’s purest form, with a great field that includes the likes of Rose, Bubba Watson, Lee Westwood, Marc Leishman, Davis Love III, John Daly, Rickie Fowler, Angel Cabrera, Vijay Singh, Y.E. Yang and K.J. Choi, all without the sideshow. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.