While the world wonders if LeBron James and the Miami Heat can pull off a three-peat, hockey fans are watching two amazing goalies staring down pucks shot like rockets from Los Angeles and New York. While “real” football enthusiasts around the world are camping out on pub stools, Guinness at the ready, and baseball fans are enjoying the relaxing pace when any team can win a pennant, one of professional golf’s “majors” begins, and every hacker who ever teed up for a round that they hoped would play out differently is looking on in delight. Golf is a sport unlike any other. So much of it is counterintuitive. Despite your every impulse, the harder you swing your club, the shorter your drive. The more you focus, the worse the results. Swinging smoothly and easily results in longer drives, more accurate pitches and chips, and truer putts.
Traditionally, no other golf event penalizes the mishit like the U.S. Open. Held this year at North Carolina’s Pinehurst No. 2, the course features incredibly narrow fairways and undulating greens that play like glass.
If you’re an infrequent follower of the sport, you may be disappointed by not seeing Tiger Woods, who continues to recover from back surgery. But a legion of young players has emerged, as brilliant heirs to golf’s royalty.
The real intriguing drama at this year’s event surrounds Phil Mickelson, one of golf’s all-time greatest players. “Lefty” has always played an aggressive game of golf, sometimes taking unnecessary chances that frequently backfire. A poor shot selection at the Open can have devastating results. Mickelson has finished in second place a jaw-dropping six times. Is this his year?
The answer to this question will hinge not only on Mickelson’s execution, but also maybe on the additional pressure he’s facing off the course. He’s been unofficially implicated in an investigation into insider trading. Mickelson is a well-known gambler; could he have stacked the odds in his favor in the stock market?
Unlike just about any other sport, almost anyone can achieve golf’s ultimate accomplishment: the hole in one. Every golfer knows as he tees up on the first hole, his scorecard as yet unblemished by double bogeys or worse, that this could be the day when all of those hours spent on the driving range pay off. This could be the day when the impossible mechanics of a golf swing are in alignment, and the ball is struck solidly, its arc straight and true. This could be the year at the U.S. Open when Phil Mickelson controls his impulse to make the impossible shot, and manages the game of golf that’s played in his mind.
This is such a great weekend for sports, whatever your taste. Enjoy.