The first round of the US Open was full of surprises. The leaderboard is a list of whose who with the top names in golf shining in the warm Wisconsin sun. Wait, no that’s not it! Except for Rickie Fowler, the leaderboard looks exactly like any other tournament during the regular season. Given all the hype of the US Open, should we really be surprised? The more I think about it, the more I realize that the US Open is emblematic of how professional golf is changing.
The predictions for the second Major of the year had most of the top ranked players leading the way. But, like all other events, the up and coming stars did not get the memo. They are fighting for every stroke as they do each week and as a result, many unknowns are in the hunt for the US Open title.
I find it interesting that the pundits and the media make such a big deal and shout “I told you so” when one (usually only one) of their predictions rises to the top. But alas, the reality of professional golf is that the playing field is more unpredictable and level than in the past 20 years. During any event, it is a coin toss as to who is going to win. Generally, it is the player who is ‘hot’; the player who peaks at the US Open will win and after the first round, it seems Rickie Fowler is that player.
I realize I am being a bit dramatic, however I wanted to catch your attention. Golf is changing, but the probability that one of the top ranked players rises to top every week is unrealistic. Yet, it is a reality at the Majors. Their experience and skill cannot be ignored and the odds are in their favor to be successful. I am a bit disconcerted that the top ranked players receive more air time than the rising starts and it is one of the aspects I wish would change. I realize showing the top names helps sell golf on TV, but I think the other players in the field deserve the same coverage because they are the players with the best chance to win!
In golf, and other sports as well, we all like the underdog and major come-backs. I think that the media hopes a player like Dustin Johnson (+3) and Rory McIlroy (+6) will play three magical rounds and be in the mix on the back nine on Sunday. However, the US Open at Erin Hills is too great of a challenge for this to happen, but yet the media will continue to watch and hope.
The first day of the US Open has shown that, like all other events, anyone can win. It will be a matter of who is hot over the next three days and who can handle the immense pressure of the US Open. Rickie Fowler is the current leader, I wonder if he will be able lead this Major wire to wire.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!