Pebble Beach is in the rear view mirror. But we’re not done with the U.S. Open, the tournament that’s a movable feast, shifting from east to west to east, from the bluffs of the Monterey Peninsula to next year the bluffing of the nation’s capital, Congressional Country Club.
The United States Golf Association, which runs the Open, has taken a cue from the travels of Father Serra and the chain of missions he established, moving up the California coast.
In 2008 the Open was in San Diego, in 2010 near Carmel and in 2012 it lands in San Francisco.
Indeed, an occasional “Olympic Club, U.S. Open 2012” cap was noticed at Pebble, golf fans never hesitant to think ahead, especially when it gives them a bit of cachet. A “U.S. Open 2010” shirt? That’s so yesterday.
Two years from now, so distant and so close. Another Open at Olympic. Memories of Ben Hogan losing the playoff to Jack Fleck in 1955, Arnold Palmer getting beat in the playoff by Billy Casper in 1966. Scott Simpson, the plodder, edging Tom Watson at Olympic in 1987. Then in 1998, the late Payne Stewart giving up the final-round lead and the tournament to Lee Janzen.
What happens in ’12? Does the USGA let the rough grow as it once did? Or is some other method of difficulty being considered? Remember that Stewart putt on 18 the second round, a 12-footer for a birdie that looped back and left him a 20-footer for a par?
Is Olympic, on top of the San Andreas Fault just before it burrows out to the Pacific, still enough of a challenge for pros who drive the ball figurative miles — one of Phil Mickelson’s drives at Pebble was announced at 393 yards.
An Open in The City is a welcome gift, a time for celebration. There was a World Series involving the Giants and Angels in 2002, the 2007 Major League Baseball All-Star Game at AT&T Park, and then the Presidents Cup golf event at Harding Park, across the road from Olympic in 2009. But that’s been the extent of our local sporting attractions the past decade.
Would Tom Watson, then at age 62, even try to qualify for Olympic? Will Tiger Woods have regained his dominance in two years, or will he be just another excellent golfer?
Maybe by 2012 Ryo Ishikawa and Rory McIlroy will have fulfilled their promise. Maybe by 2012 Dustin Johnson will have forgotten what happened to him in the last round at Pebble — and more importantly we will have forgotten.
That was a wonderful Open which concluded Sunday at Pebble, a classic test of golf on a historic course, a wonderful Open which made us impatient for another.
The first victory by a European in 40 years, Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, steady as he goes, going all the way. An excellent challenge by another European, France’s Gregory Havret introducing us to a new name. And exciting if erratic play by three of the biggest stars in the sport, Ernie Els, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
There wasn’t much more to ask from the Open of 2010. Now all we can ask is that the U.S. Open of 2012, the Oympic Club Open, be just as compelling and entertaining.