Liotta: U.S. Open presents brutal challenge

My greatest golfing experience came at Pebble Beach, the day after the 1992 U.S. Open, when the press was allowed to play the course under the conditions that Tom Kite had to endure in order to become an Open champion. It was humbling.

A 12-handicap on an ordinary course, I shot 113, and remain to this day as proud of that round as any I’ve ever played. Long before I reached the 18th green, I was completely overwhelmed. Mentally exhausted, thoroughly confused, completely beaten — by the conditions.

To say a U.S. Open golf course is nothing like anything we play for weekend recreation is an understatement. And Torrey Pines is a track that is mercilous under everyday conditions. I should know.

The late afternoons of my senior year in college were spent at Torrey Pines. As a student at UC San Diego, located less than a mile south of the course, I lived in an apartment in Del Mar, the next town to the north.

I literally commuted past the front gate every afternoon. Most afternoons, I’d drop my car off in the parking lot and hang around the practice green until the starter went home. Then it was golf until sunset.

The thing you must know about Torrey Pines — which is every bit the golfing experience that Pebble is — is that the rough is as thick and tough to hack through as any in golf. Sure, the 7,600-yard track is over the top. Who ever heard of a 515-yard par 4?

But the key will be the rough. On Thursday, we saw Phil Mickelson shake his wrist in pain after trying to hit out of the stuff. On an ordinary Thursday in March, a shot out of the stuff can shoot pain through your arms.

And in U.S. Open conditions? I can only imagine. The winner will be the week’s most accurate driver of the golf ball. And more than a few of the defeated will be soaking their hands in ice.

Random thought:

The NBA stands at a precipice no sport ever wants to face. A referee claims a three-man crew fixed a playoff game — Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings — and the claim dredges up the worst kind of evidence.

The fact that the Lakers shot 27 free throws in the fourth quarter of a game they would narrowly win looks bad enough. Add the fact that six years ago, consumer advocate Ralph Nader sent a letter to the commissioner demanding a review of the game’s officiating, and it gets worse.

Perhaps the lousiest assertion of all is that the game was fixed not in the name of gambling, but in the name of business, because the NBA wanted a Game 7 and the extra revenue.

Tim Liotta is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to The Examiner.

Other Sportssports

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

A ban on smoking or vaping in multi-unit buildings has drawn opposition from cannabis advocates, who say it would leave users with no legal place to consume a legal substance. (Shutterstock)
Cannabis group slams Yee’s proposed apartment smoking ban as ‘classist’

Legislation would impose fines of $1,000 a day on repeat violators

The most dangerous behaviors by drivers include failing to yield right-of-way at crosswalks, unsafe speeding and failing to stop at red lights or stop signs. <ins>(Ekevara Kitpowsong/Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite, which supplies water to San Francisco, is among the concerns of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which is undergoing a change of leadership. <ins>(Courtesy SFPUC)</ins>
Changes in leadership at SFPUC spark concern, hope for future water policy

Will agency’s new commissioner continue to support Big Ag?

Supervisor Shamann Walton joined with community members to speak out against rising homicides, which have taken a heavy toll in the Bayview-Hunters Point in 2020. (Samantha Laurey/ Special to S.F Examiner)
SF homicides surpass 2019 total with month left in year

Police attribute rise to COVID-19, shootings and deadly gang violence

A screenshot from SFPD body worn camera
New videos show police shooting man armed with knife, frying pan

Police say Antonio Estrada set fire to apartment building before shooting

Most Read