US Open Wrap-Up

Unlike last year’s debacle, the US Open was played this year on a course with greens that had actual grass. The USGA made sure of that by dumping over 400,000 gallons of water on Pebble Beach in the run-up to the event (twice the normal amount usually applied to the grounds} in response to warmer than usual temperatures in the Bay Area that, combined with windy conditions, had the potential of drying out the course to unplayable limits. In actuality, the reverse occurred – a marine layer (certainly not uncommon to these parts) settle in ath the start of the tournament, resulting in cooler temperatures and softer conditions.

The USGA can hardly be faulted for this; unfortunately for US Open purists, this resulted in the tournament taking on the characteristics of a regular PGA Tour event, albeit with more punishing rough than usual. The silver-tongued/silver-toned golf maven Peter Kessler held nothing back regarding his feelings about the goings-on at Pebble Beach:

“The US Open is a total disaster. Fairways 2x too wide with irons from tees. 7 iron or less to each hole. Greens super soft and slower than Tour stops, so there is no awkward angle ever on little shots. At real Opens, Rose would have shot 85. Fox gets an F. Happy Father’s Day. Pk”

https://twitter.com/peterkessler/status/1140120092535115776

Now, Kessler takes a back seat to no living creature when it comes to overvaluing his own opinion – at least when it comes to golf – but there’s truth to a few of his points. To wit:

Pebble Beach and Merion are the two shortest courses that are part of the unofficial US Open rotation. Narrowing fairways – a standard USGA practice – on these courses simply means that rather than hitting driver accurately (long a criteria in winning a US Open), players can hit fairway woods or irons off the tee to reach desired approach areas.

As for “super soft greens” – yes, Pebble Beach was overwatered, and we witnessed a good number of approaches that may not have held otherwise. As mentioned above, the USGA was placed in a difficult position and chose to err on the side of caution.

But this all begs a larger question – are Pebble Beach and Merion obsolete as US Open venues

The answer, unfortunately, is likely yes, at least if those courses are to be held to traditional US Open standards. There’s no room to further stretch these courses to current professional length standards, and further tightening said courses would result in play bordering on the farcical. Of course, this situation might not have occurred if the USGA had taken a stronger stance in regulating equipment (I’m 66 years old and in decent – not great – physical condition, and I’m driving the ball at least as far as I did 10 years ago), but that’s a different subject for another time.

The Good Fathers of Winged Foot, the hosts for next year’s US Open, are already chirping that there will not be a winning score of 13-under shot at THEIR course. And it’s no doubt true. Take a gander at what has transpired there in the past:

Year Major Winner Score Margin of

Victory

Runner(s) Up
2006 U.S. Open  Geoff Ogilvy 285 (+5) 1 stroke  Jim Furyk
Phil Mickelson
Colin Montgomerie
1984 U.S. Open  Fuzzy Zoeller 276 (–4) Playoff  Greg Norman
1974 U.S. Open  Hale Irwin 287 (+7) 2 strokes  Forrest Fezler
1959 U.S. Open  Billy Casper 282 (+2) 1 stroke  Bob Rosburg
1929 U.S. Open  Bobby Jones (a) 294 (+6) Playoff  Al Espinosa

 

I’m not sure what happened in 1984, but the course came back with a vengeance in 2006. This, of course, was the year that Phil Mickelson for once admitted that he had made a tactical error on the final hole, choosing to play it aggressively and squandering what seemed to be a sure victory.

There is a certain masochistic pleasure in watching the world’s best players struggle with difficult conditions, but at the same time, one can only imagine the howls of protest if Pebble Beach is ever removed from the rotation. Yes, the Peter Kesslers of the world may howl, but whatever the score, no one can argue that this year’s US Open wasn’t entertaining.

Oh – about that. Brooks Koepka did not three-peat, although it was certainly not for lack of trying. From tee to green, he was mostly solid, but did not convert enough putts. Which brings us to a deserving winner, Gary Woodland.

Woodland has contended in major championships before, but until now has been primarily known for 1) initially attending a Division II college on a basketball scholarship, 2) hitting the ball prodigious distances while offsetting that advantage by being a woeful putter, 3) being Koepka’s physical clone, and 4) this wonderful moment.

And when the tall Kansan clung to a one stroke lead over Justin Rose going into the final, with Koepka lurking three shots back, few thought he would hold on. But Woodland, who usually shows about as much emotion as a Tibetan monk, showed up smiling on the first tee on Sunday, looking noticeably relaxed. Instead, it was Rose who went in reverse while Woodland went about his business.

Most will point to two brave shots on the back nine that solidified Woodland’s victory. On the long par 5 14th, he was left with an uphill shot of about 270 yards. He ripped a three wood that wound up just off of the green, giving him a simple up and down to make birdie.

More impressive was his par save on the par-3 17th. His tee shot found the hourglass-shaped green; unfortunately, he was in a position where if he putted the ball, the closest he would get to the hole would be about 15 feet. Instead, he pulled off this nervy shot which allowed him to take a two shot lead to 18 and effectively seal the deal.

STRAY SHOTS:

  • Covering golf on TV (much like setting up a course for a US Open) can often be a crap shoot. After a rocky start in 2015, Fox’s coverage has steadily improved, particularly in its camera work. Unlike a large segment of the population, I don’t view Joe Buck as a vile pustule inflicted upon the sports viewing public; however, Shane Bacon’s commentary is enthusiastic without going over the top, and I found his chemistry with Brad Faxon more entertaining than that of Buck and a surprisingly bland Paul Azinger.
  • While the crowds at last month’s PGA Championship at Bethpage Black were next level obnoxious, the spectators at Pebble Beach did their best to rise to the occasion, with plenty of “IN THE HOLE” and “BABA-BOOEY” dorks in attendance. And while we’re at it, we don’t need “USA” chants at a tournament that hosts an international field.
  • I realize that Tiger Woods moves the needle, but complaints about not showing more of his hot back nine on Sunday (which resulted with a less than scintillating finish of T-21) are ludicrous.
  • Much has been made about Jordan Spieth’s critical comments to his long-time caddie Michael Greller after Spieth felt Greller had misclubbed him twice on the 8th hole in the second round. Player/Caddy relationships can be tricky – I remember Jhonnatan Vegas being asked about his bagman Luis Sira. Vegas replied, “I spend more time with Luis than I do with my wife.” He paused, then sighed, “That’s not good.” By the end of the year, the two had split. I’m wondering if Spieth and Greller have reached that stage – the former has seemed frustrated with his game for some time. Then again, Bubba Watson and Ted Scott have thrived in their mercurial partnership.
  • In a few more weeks, the run-up to the Open Championship begins, which means that we’ll be treated to an embarrassment of links-golf riches. Lahinch (Irish Open), The Renaissance Club (Scottish Open), Royal Portrush (The Open Championship), and Royal Lytham and St Annes (Senior British Open). Set your alarm clocks early.

The GOLF NERD’S 2019 US Open Preview: Is There No End to the Bitching?

Last month, Golf Digest printed an article titled USGA Confidential in which top players from both tours and other “insiders” were given the opportunity, under the condition of anonymity, to talk frankly about the USGA and its role in conducting its prize competition, the US Open. Not surprisingly, most of the comments skewed negatively, be it regarding course setup, purse money, or the interpretation/application of rules

Also not surprisingly, the majority of complaints about course setup came from American PGA tour players. More on that anon.

When the Byron Nelson Classic was still being played at TPC Las Colinas, I had the opportunity to ride the course in the early morning prior to its opening round with Scott Abernathy, who was at that time the head grounds superintendent at that course and responsible for course setup. One of the most repeated words from Dr Abernathy that morning (Scott holds a doctorate degree in Agronomy from Texas A&M) was “consistency,” be it for the sand in the bunkers, length of rough, and speed of the greens (this latter item is no joke. Scott interrupted our session for a moment when he spotted one of his crew mowing a part of the PRACTICE green in the wrong direction, which would impact the speed of putts by maybe 3 to 6 inches).

It was a very instructive session, as it emphasized the point that at least on the PGA Tour, players expect on a weekly basis to have similar course conditions from week to week – greens that run about 11 on the stimpmeter, rough around 2 inches high, and sand that is found to be . . . well, consistent. So when your average PGA Tour player experiences conditions that vary from the norm, he’ll tend to express some discontent about the situation.

The result of this is that the USGA gets to be the whipping boy every year when the US Open rears its head, and to be fair, some of the criticism is well earned. Shinnecock Hills, which by rights should be an ideal site for an Open, has been all but rendered unplayable the past two times it has played host by the USGA’s failure to take into account wind conditions in the eastern end of Long Island. Chambers Bay, host of the 2015 US Open, was conducted with greens that had the look and texture of one of those sponges one can purchase that are pre-loaded with detergent. And the manner in which the USGA officiating committee penalized Dustin Johnson for allegedly causing his ball to move prompted near-rebellion from Tour players (as well as a rules change that now would never have called DJ’s action into question).

But back to the Golf Digest article for a moment – again, most of the complaints come from American players, some of which seem remarkably petty. One caddy felt insulted that a USGA official reminded him to make sure that there weren’t more that 14 clubs in his player’s bag. Ask Ian Woosnam if he would have welcomed such a reminder at the 2011 Open Championship. Players question what the USGA does with the millions of dollars in broadcast rights fees it has received from Fox TV, i.e., why aren’t we getting more money?.

The European Tour players quoted in the article are much less peeved at the USGA. One of them noted, “I played with two leading Americans in the first two rounds last year. One whined for two days. The other’s caddie had to tell him to shut up at one point, he was being such a pain. He said it was ‘clown golf,’ but it wasn’t. He was just hitting it bad.” This sort of attitude reflects a reality of playing overseas – one encounters more varied conditions requiring different styles of play on the European Tour than here in the good ol’ USA, where we’ve made the game resemble outdoor billiards in all too many instances.

So there should be plenty to talk about when this year’s US Open starts on Thursday at Pebble Beach, which is considered to be as sacred a piece of golf turf as one will find in the USA. Be forewarned that the conditions and setup that we’ll watch will be far different than what is typically seen when the AT&T Pro-Am is conducted there in February – the course will be longer (although short by US Open standards), par will be one stroke lower (the 528 yard 2nd hole is changed to a par 5, one of those silly acts from the USGA in its artificial pursuit of “preserving par”), the fairways more narrow, and the rough much higher (so for all those hanging their visors on Phil Mickelson finally capturing a US Open based on his win at Pebble earlier this year, remember that old saw about a fool parting with his money).

The setup will likely take the driver out of play on most holes for the majority of the field, which in theory broadens the number of contender and reduces the likelihood of Brooks Koepka winning his third straight trophy in the event. Bet against Koepka against your own peril. He has shown that he can win or contend on a variety of major championship venues in a variety of conditions; furthermore, I can guarantee with 100% certitude that he was not one of the players quoted in the Golf Digest article complaining about course setup.

If not Koepka . . . yes, I’ve seen the broadcast of Tiger’s 15 shot victory here eons ago. He played well at Nicklaus’s Memorial, and right now, his iron play is otherworldly, which gives him an advantage on Pebble’s tiny greens. He’ll be a factor. Jordan Spieth’s game (particularly his putting) has been on the uptick and will also be dangerous on a track that does not require him to hit driver a lot. If you’re looking for a dark horse, you could do worse than Brant Snedeker, who has also been rounding into form, or Graham McDowell, who won at Pebble the last time the US Open was conducted there and has had a resurgent season to date. The setup could also favor someone like Francesco Molinari, although he still seems to be suffering from a post-Masters collapse hangover.

Speaking of hangovers, I don’t like Rory this week, despite his impressive win at the Canadian Open. Dustin Johnson has a checkered history at Pebble, although I suppose if anyone has the capacity to forget the past, it’s DJ. Spaniards Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm have abysmal major tournament records of late; the former not making a major cut since his 2017 Masters victory, the latter only doing so in 3 of his last 8 major efforts.

I’m predicting a historic Koepka win and hope for a controversy-free US Open. Somehow, I think the former is more likely.

Haney’s Folly

Unless you have no interest in golf whatsoever or have been on an expedition to Antarctica, you have doubtless heard about Hank Haney’s remarks about the LPGA in general and South Korean golfers in particular leading into last weekend’s US Women’s Open. If in the off chance you’ve not heard them, here’s the transcript, which while damning itself does not convey the disinterested and mocking tone used by Haney and his producer.

 

Reaction was swift from LPGA players and commentators from throughout the golf world, condemning Haney for said remarks. Sirius/XM suspended him from his show on its PGA Tour Radio station. Not surprisingly, the most shrill reaction came from USA Today’s Christine (Aunt Bea*) Brennan, who wants Haney banned from every golf club, public or private in the world.

Haney did not do himself any favors in the aftermath, first by offering the standard, tepid “sorry if I offended anybody” nonsense, and then, in an act that could only be described as incomprehensible, attempted to defend his comments after South Korean golfer Jeongeun Lee6’s win by offering up a flimsy argument that he had based his statements on statistical fact. He also managed to misspell Ms Lee6’s name while offering her congratulations.

I gave my own reasons as to why more attention should be paid to the LPGA and why the US Women’s Open deserved a watch over this past weekend (as opposed to, say, having the Golf Channel and CBS breathlessly broadcast every Tiger Woods shot on his way to a T-9 with Billy Horshel, Emilio Grillo, and Bud Cauley, whose combined time on the TV screen likely amounted to less than one minute). The competition at the Country Club of South Carolina was superb, and the USGA deserves credit for a tough but fair set up.

Oh, and for those of you keeping score at home, the Top 10 (including ties) consisted of the following breakdown:

  • 2 South Koreans
  • 1 Japanese
  • 1 Chinese
  • 1 French
  • 6 Americans

I will say that the radio channel on which Haney broadcasts is the PGA TOUR RADIO station. It does not cover the LPGA, and I would be surprised if there were not more than a few of his colleagues that share his views on the women’s Tour. That does not excuse Haney by any means, but it perhaps speaks to a need for the LPGA to further build upon its media presence. The Golf Channel has done a commendable job regarding LPGA Tour broadcasts and gave equal time to the recent NCAA Championships. Fox carries all USGA championships for both genders. Perhaps dedicated radio time should be the next step.

As to what to do about Haney . . . I don’t listen to him regularly, but he does have an audience and, unfortunately, his share of defenders. I can do without him. Maybe PGA Tour Radio can’t. And that’s the pity.

 

*credit to Tony Kornheiser

Equal Time

I realize that this weekend finds the PGA Tour heading to greater Columbus, Ohio for The Memorial, which is Jack Nicklaus’ entry into the “This Should Be the Fifth Major” competition. From a purely golf perspective, there much to be said in support of this notion – the course, Muirfield Village, is probably the Golden Bear’s best architectural effort, and the strength of the field, while not as meaty as The Players (another pretender to the throne), is certainly stronger than that of The Masters.

Oh, and Tiger has announced that he’s playing, which automatically ensures that every Woods fanboy will drop what he’s doing to tune in, and we will be inundated with past highlights of his golfing conquests.

All of which comes at the expense of a concurrent significant golf event on the LPGA Tour, as the US Women’s Open will be conducted at The Country Club of Charleston [South Carolina]. And while I’m sure there will be all kinds of bombast (legitimate and otherwise) reported from The Memorial, I think it will be worth it for the serious golf aficionado to spend at least a few hours checking in on this event.

I say this flying into the face of some unfortunate observations from Sirius/XM radio host – and noted golf instructor – Hank Haney, who on his radio show stated that “I couldn’t name 4 players [on the LPGA tour]. Wait, yes I could, I’ll just go with Lee.” As The Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz remarked on Twitter, it’s not clear what’s worse, the racism or the sexism inherent in that remark.

Part of Haney’s remarks refer to the fact that there is indeed a strong influx of Asian players playing the LPGA Tour – most notably from South Korea, but others from Thailand and China. [NOTE: Haney’s most famous student is part Asian. You may have heard of him] Why this should be a detriment to watching the play of women professionals is a mystery to me – as with any competition, one should want to watch the best in their craft. Many observers more intelligent than I am have noted that most of us of either gender would benefit from mimicking the smooth tempo and on-plane swings of these players.

And it doesn’t take long to notice the individuality of Inbee Park, Lydia Ko, Minjee Lee, the Jutanugarn sisters, and Shanshan Feng. Not to mention Brooke Henderson, Lexi Thompson, and Charley Hull.

All of that aside – the LPGA takes us to some classic courses that are not in the PGA’s wheelhouse but would be great tests for the 99.99999 percent of the rest of us. The Country Club of Charleston is a great example of this; a Seth Raynor beauty that emphasizes strategy and shot making.  Preliminary reports indicate that the USGA has set up wider than usual fairways, but the greens will be quick and the flag locations, well, “interesting.”

Oh – and as an extra special incentive, the two young women who thrilled us at the Augusta National Women’s Championship, Jennifer Kupcho and Maria Fassi (who I believe is poised to be a charismatic star on the Nancy Lopez level) will be paired in their professional debuts this weekend.

I look forward to making time for both events this weekend. You should, as well.

Monday Morning Musings

Not that anyone asked, but . . .

  • I found myself torn as to who to root for this past weekend at The Colonial, as there’s much to like about Kevin Na and Tony Finau. Both turned pro in their teens and are two of the nicest guys on the PGA Tour. Their games are dissimilar – Na relies on his accurate ball striking and short game, while Fineau is a bomber of the first degree.
  • When Na holed his birdie putt on the final hole to seal his victory, his first reaction was to point at his caddie and exclaim, “That car is yours!” In addition to the first place paycheck, the tournament sponsor was giving away a classic 1973 Dodge Challenger. Na’s caddie, Keith Harms, had been admiring it earlier in the week; Kevin promised him the vehicle if he won.
  • Last year, Na had rounds of 62 and 61 at this tournament. He shot 62 on Friday and closed with a 66 on Sunday. I think he likes the track.
  • Back in the day, Colonial was considered a monster of a course; these days, it can be attacked in a variety of ways, as Na and Finau demonstrated. And on a windy day with the course dried, it still demands solid play.
  • Na is a great interview – honest without being arrogant, and at times really funny. He once famously made 16 on a hole and joked about it afterwards. He also went through a period of time when he seem to have a mental block while preparing to tee off . When asked about it, he was forthright in responding.
  • Still, Kevin developed a reputation for slow play, a fact that the noted journalist and author John Feinstein brought up on Twitter on Sunday, say that if Na makes this year’s Presidents Cup team, an extra day may be required for the competition to finish. I thought this was a bit harsh, and commented that he was not nearly as slow as he used to be. Feinstein came back with, “That’s like comparing 3:00 [Washington D.C.] beltway traffic to 4:00 beltway traffic.” Touche.
  • Not that this has anything to do with golf, but Fort Worth (Colonial’s home city) is almost criminally underrated. Unlike its glitzy neighbor Dallas, Fort Worth is, at least in my mind, “real Texas.” And I mean that in a good way. Friendly people, great steakhouses, authentic Tex-Mex and BBQ, and a eclectic mix of cowboy, artistic and college town (home of TCU) cultures that work. And it’s easy to navigate.
  • Finally – I give to you the 10 best names in golf.
  1. Estaban Toledo
  2. Nacho Elvira
  3. Jazz Janewattananond
  4. Jhonnatan Vegas
  5. Fabian Gomez
  6. Kevin Na
  7. John Huh
  8. Dicky Pride (Champions Tour division)
  9. Beau Titsworth (amateur division)
  10. Charley Hull (LPGA division)

 

Hit ‘em straight, and not too often.

“And NOW, In THIS Corner . . .”

We all have our guilty pleasures. Mine used to be professional wrestling; now, it’s following a good, petty beef involving golf.

The best beefs generally involve someone with a reasonable amount of cachet stating a strong opinion (or, as the kids say these days, a “hot take”) and having an equally respected contemporary respond to the contrary. Or better yet, if said hot take was directed at an individual, having that individual respond.

To wit:

Brandel Chamblee vs Brooks Koepka

Chamblee, of course, is the Golf Channel’s designated master of the hot take, and the fact that his Take Accuracy Percentage (or TAP, as I’ll coin it) is exceedingly low has not diminished his output.

So – prior to the PGA Championship, Brandel stated that the only two golfers capable of challenging Tiger Woods for the game’s supremacy are Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy. When asked about Koepka (whose record in the prior 4 majors included 2 wins and a runner-up), Chamblee responded that while Koepka was a great talent, he questioned his “toughness” and stated that Koepka lost weight for “vanity reasons.” Koepka, for whom there is no piece of wood large enough not to wear as a chip on his shoulder), got wind of this and posted a photoshopped picture on Twitter of Chamblee wearing a clown’s nose.

After Koepka’s opening 63, Chamblee changed his tune; his praise of Koepka’s round was effusive while also joking that he felt like “[Koepka] was giving me the finger during the entire round.” Koepka was having none of it. In his post-victory presser, ESPN’s Ken Van Valkenburg asked Brooks if there was anything said that was particularly motivational prior to the tournament.

“Yeah,” responded Koepka. “When they said I wasn’t tough enough. That really pissed me off.”

“Who said that?”

Brooks smiled rather crookedly. “You know who said that.”

Matt Ginella vs Lisa Cornwell

Both of these folks are also Golf Channel personalities. Ginella is the congenial golf travel correspondent whose job is the envy of pretty much every golfer who has a touch of wanderlust. Ms Cornwell splits her duties between manning the Golf Central desk and doing some on-course commentary and interviews during tournaments.

Before we get too far into this, a disclosure. I met Lisa at a party held at a friend’s house in Dallas after a round of the LPGA’s North Texas Shootout and talked all things golf for a good half hour. She’s a delightful person who, among other things, was an All-American golfer at Arkansas. I feel personally affronted when Twitter trolls go after her, as she’s probably forgotten more about golf than most of them will ever know.

In any event, this particular beef has its roots in the PGA of America’s decision to allow John Daly to use a cart during the PGA Championship. Ginella was adamant in his disgust with this decree; beyond the philosophical argument that golf is at its heart a walking sport, Ginella also called Daly an alcoholic and a colossal waste of talent on Twitter.

No doubt that Daly is a polarizing figure who has its demons, but Ginella’s comments seemed unusually harsh for someone with his platform. Ms Cornwell, perhaps coming to the defense of a fellow Razorback, took umbrage to her co-worker’s comments and responded in kind. The next thing she knew, she was being blocked by her colleague:

I just got BLOCKED by a co-worker for having a difference of opinion on the John Daly cart issue. This thin-skinned world in which we live needs to toughen up.

https://twitter.com/LisaCornwellGC/status/1131582217145192448

It should be interesting the next time there’s an all hands meeting at the Golf Channel.

Alan Shipnuck vs The European Ryder Cup Team and All of Its Supporters

Alan Shipnuck and Michael Bamberger are my favorite living golf writers (Dan Jenkins will forever hold the all-time title), and when the two of them get together on podcasts – particularly when there is wine involved – it ranks among the funniest and most intelligent conversations about the game that one can hear.

Alan is quite active on Twitter (Bamberger is old school and stays away from most social media platforms), and is does not fear the hot take. After the US team scored a decisive victory at the 2016 Ryder Cup, Shipnuck opined that this was a portend of dominance in the coming years for the Yanks. This, of course, set off a round of howls from across the pond, led by the individual known as Tweeter Allis (a parody Twitter account based on English golf and broadcasting legend Peter Alliss), leading to a Q&A prior to the 2018 Cup in Paris. Sample question:

ALAN: Given that you guys have dominated the Cup for the last two decades, why are European fans still so touchy and defensive?

Tweeter: I think the touchy and defensive demeanour may have manifested itself during the 2016 renewal. Some rather cynical tactics were employed by the US team — for one, importing the entire crowd from the 16th hole at the Waste Management tournament was a most disgusting stunt. One cannot wait until Bethpage in 2024, when I believe the entire U.S. crowd will be treated to a free bar and invited to run naked through the fairways screaming “Baba-booey.” Quite lovely.

After the bloodletting in Paris, Alan was the object of much (mostly) good-natured abuse, not only for the Tweeter, but the European team itself:

“I think we only have one question – where’s Alan Shipnuck?”

https://twitter.com/dylan_dethier/status/1047895282766290947

For his part, Shipnuck has taken the ribbing in stride – which, if one is going to engage in the hot take game, is the only way to handle it.

A Storm’s A-Brewin’

 

Aside from arguments about whether or not Brooks Koepka is boring (pro tip: he’s not), the topic generating the most conversation at the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black last weekend was the decorum of metropolitan New York golf fans.

From a player perspective, I heard relatively few complaints, although I supposed it depends on which player one is talking about. For example, Phil (The People’s Choice) Mickelson, to paraphrase a statement once made by the current occupant in the White House, could stab someone on the Black Course’s 5th tee and still be cheered. Lefty’s final round found himself in various sectors of Nassau County, yet each shot was greeted with an extreme level of appreciation or sympathy by the hoards.

And while Harold Varner III afterwards expressed disdain for fans screaming “DJ, DJ!” directly at fellow competitor Koepka while Dustin Johnson was making his final 9 move on Sunday, Brooks, as is his inclination, shrugged off the episode, stating “I don’t blame them. I was half-choking anyway.”

But there was plenty of social media commentary from respected golf journalists regarding the crowd, and some concerns expressed for what could happen when Bethpage hosts the 2024 Ryder Cup. CBSSports Golf write Kyle Porter put it best in the following tweet:

Me on Monday: Bethpage for the Ryder Cup with Phil as captain is going to be the sporting event of the decade!

Me on Sunday: They should not host a Ryder Cup within 100 miles of Bethpage.

https://twitter.com/KylePorterCBS/status/1130310727435247616

ESPN’s Kevin Van Valkenburg, who is occasionally heard on the No Laying Up podcast and does a hilarious Gary Player impression, chimed in with this:

Here is my PGA prediction and you can bookmark it: By the end of Saturday the nasty behavior of the crowd will become “a thing” and we’ll end up fighting about it, with allegations of snowflakes and golf snobs and Long Island jerks being lobbed about like grenades.

https://twitter.com/KVanValkenburg/status/1129780991789289473

Interestingly, the one sports columnist who was not put off by the fans at Bethpage was one Christine Brennan of USA Today, to whom former Washington Post colleague Tony Kornhieser affectionately refers as “Aunt Bea.” Ms Brennan, who typically can find offense in the most innocuous of actions (she is the only person on Twitter who has ever blocked me for the sin of criticizing her for a piece she wrote in which she called Fred Funk “sexist” for donning a skirt when Anika Sorenstam outdrove him in a Skins Game some years back), felt that the Long Island galleries were “fun” and “golf shouldn’t be so stuffy.” I wonder how far from the press tent she wandered.

Aunt Bea’s feelings notwithstanding,  the fear in 2024 (particularly from the European Team and its backers) is that if normally hospitable Minnesotans can act like bozos during the 2016 Cup (one spectator was removed when he told Rory McIlroy to “suck a dick”), one can only imagine what will happen when the Euro contingent tries to sing “Ole, Ole, Ole” after Sergio and Jon Rahm knock off Patrick Reed and Justin Thomas.

Golf fans attending Tour events on this side of the pond have grown increasingly boorish with each passing year, and the Tour has more or less left it up to the players to inform security to remove fans (McIlroy and Justin Thomas have done so in the past, the latter was criticized for being “soft”). This is crazy, not to mention unacceptable. Most tournaments these days have “drink tents” set up for people to imbibe with wide screen TV’s in which to follow the action. I don’t know how much expense the Tour devotes to crowd control, but whatever is currently allocated doesn’t seem to be working.  It needs to improve.