The US Open was having a brutal weekend heading into the final round on Sunday. But there was a glimmer of hope.
Rory McIlroy was in the hunt for his first major championship since 2011. Rickie Fowler, who has been on a resurgence tour lately, could win his first major in his home state.
You also had big names like Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffle and Dustin Johnson all in striking range of the lead.
Instead, some guy most of you have probably never heard of, Wyndham Clark, came out on top.
Imagine the conference finals for the NBA being the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors and Charlotte Hornets. And then the now Jordan-less Hornets win it all. That’s comparable to what happened this past weekend.
Clark is in the midst of a breakout season. He won last month at the Wells Fargo Championship. The win last weekend gives him two for his career. He’s now up to No. 13 in the official world golf rankings.
He has a heck of a story as well. His mom passed away of cancer when he was in college. He took some time off but transferred schools and continued to excel.
But he’s not a star player or a big name. By historical measure he’s just having a really nice year. He’s never finished higher than 64 in the FedEx Cup standings.
To say it wouldn’t have been better for golf if Rory won instead of him is like saying it wouldn’t be better for hockey if the Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup over the Nashville Predators.
And the United States Golf Association needed a guy like Rory to win after the weekend it had.
Lack of Attendance
One of the most noticeable omissions at the Los Angeles Country Club this weekend was a lot of fans. If you watched any coverage this past weekend, especially Thursday and Friday, it didn’t look like a major championship.
The line of fans circling the green were miniscule compared to others. The roar of the crowd off birdies and spectacular shots was low.
The atmosphere at the feeling of another regular tournament. And the USGA can’t feel great about that.
It doesn’t help that 2022 US Open winner Matt Fitzpatrick made a blatant comment regarding it.
“Very poor … It’s disappointing on the USGA side,” Fitzpatrick told Barstool and Sports Illustrated about the US Open atmosphere. “They want a great tournament—from what I’ve heard a lot of members bought tickets and that’s why there’s so many less people. Hopefully, it’s not the same for other US Opens going forward.”
Roughly 23,000 tickets were allowed to be sold each day at Los Angeles Country Club. That’s nearly 7,000 less than last year in Boston.
Out of those 23,000 only 9,000 were sold to general admission. The others were allotted for suites and hospitality tents.
I understand there is a business side to things and you have to scratch sponsors backs after they give you money.
But we all know that’s basically a waste of 14,000 tickets because most of those people in the suites and tents aren’t really there to watch a golf tournament.
Then for the 9,000 general admission tickets, half were given to LACC members to buy. So you had a grand total of 4,500 regular fans buying tickets each day. That’s absurd.
Course was also Criticized
Adding insult to injury, a few notable players weren’t fond of the course set up as well. Fitzpatrick was one of them who complained of the blind tee shots and lack of reward for hitting good shots.
“There’s just too many holes for me where you’ve got blind tee shots and then you’ve got fairways that don’t hold the ball. There’s too much slope,” he said. “Some of the tee shots are just — I think they’re a little bit unfair. You hit a good tee shot and end up in the rough by a foot and then you’re hacking it out.”
US Open champion Brooks Koepka and Viktor Hovland also agreed that the course was not a favorite of theirs.
“I’m not a big fan of this golf course, to be honest. I think there’s some good holes. there’s not any great holes. I think there’s a few bad holes,” Hovland said.
The worst hole was the lengthy par 3 seventh. It played nearly 300 yards each day and was the longest par 3 in US Open history.
These guys are professionals who can hit the ball a mile compared to us weekend hacks. But even 290 yards is a long way for what a par 3 is supposed to be.
I thought it was also ironic that they had a par 4 that was of similar length but was well guarded by sand traps and a large oak tree so players couldn’t hit the green easily.
Regardless, it was the worst US Open I can ever remember watching and hopefully the USGA will learn from their many faults this past weekend.
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