San Francisco – Due to popular demand, the Ambassador of Awards is back.
What’s a major championship, anyway, without a few well-deserved awards?
Twice is Nice award: If Jim Furyk wins here at the Olympic Club, he will have two U.S. Open titles and no other majors. What is it with guys who capture the same major twice (Lee Janzen, Andy North, Bernhard Langer, Jose Maria Olazabal, Greg Norman, Dave Stockton) but don’t win any others?
Straight Arrow award: After 36 holes, we are pleased to announce that Tiger Woods hit more fairways – 21 of 28 – than any other competitor. This is the best indicator of how comfortable he has become with his swing. Graeme McDowell and Alex Cejka were next at 20.
The Hay by the Bay award: A handful of players were so wild off the tee they couldn’t find the fairway with a map. They spent most of their time in the hay. Such is the nature of the U.S. Open, where most fairways are about 30 yards wide. Howard Cole hit 2 of 28 fairways, Branden Grace hit 4, while Brian Rowell and George Coetzee hit 5 apiece.
Quick Draw award: Kevin Na, who sent American golf fans into a state of palpitation at The Players Championship, has dramatically and successfully changed his deliberate pre-swing routine. He now does this — believe it or not — very quickly.
Aren’t You Jason Dufner award: This award goes, of course, to Dufner himself, flying far under the radar at 143 and yet only four strokes off the pace.
Finish With a Whimper award: Graeme McDowell, despite all the talk about his game being perfect for the U.S. Open, bogeyed three of his final five holes to fall from 1-under to 2-over.
Teenage Werewolf award: The golf course took a bite out of 17-year-old Beau Hossler on his final nine (four bogeys and a double), but he still finished at 3-over, just four strokes off the lead.
Left My Heart award: Well, the U.S. Open didn’t exactly drive a stake through his heart, but it may have seemed that way as Luke Donald left San Francisco at 11-over-par for 36 holes.
Toughest U.S. Open course: With apologies for the vampire references, the Olympic Club is an exceedingly beautiful golf facility, but it has teeth. Under these ideal conditions (no rain, firm conditions) it is the most difficult course in the U.S. Open rotation.
Funky Fog award: He must have had fog in his eyes, because Trevor Immelman finished at 15-over for 36 holes to post the highest score of any major champion. Other major winners to miss cut: Vijay Singh, Stewart Cink, Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson, Louis Oosthuizen, Lucas Glover.
Love Potion No. 9 award: Shane Bertsch became the first player in 112 U.S. Opens to hit his opening tee shot off the 9th tee. The U.S. Golf Association used a double tee start on 1 and 9 because 10 was too far from the clubhouse and practice range.
Who Killed the 10-Shot Rule award: The USGA pleads guilty to this one. The 36-hole cut at this U.S. Open was 60 and ties, with no 10-shot rule in effect. Shame on the Blue Coats. Never mind the heartbreak for 22 additional players who would have made the cut under the 10-shot rule. This decision was all about convenience for those who run the tournament.
Rampaging Revenge award: Please disregard all comments from USGA officials about how they weren’t seeking revenge after Rory McIlroy’s 16-under winning score last year. Of course they weren’t going to allow it to happen again. The U.S. Open is all about respecting par, so shooting 16-under was like breaking the law.
Wicked Witch of the Westwood award: Lee Westwood, the best player never to win a major, is 5-over through 36 holes. Will somebody please give this guy a putting lesson. He hit 19 of 36 greens in regulation, but had 36 putts on those 19 holes.
Best Fairway Bunker award: It’s on No. 6 at the Olympic Club, even though a strong argument could be made that it shouldn’t be there. This is the only fairway bunker on the entire golf course, ruining a perfectly fine trivia question (What is the only major championship course without a fairway bunker?).
Longest Hole award: Never in U.S. Open history (the first one was held in 1895) has there been a hole as long as the 670-yard 16th at the Olympic Club.
Not So Solid as a Rock award: Robert Rock, the well-liked English professional, was between a rock and a plane ticket home after finishing at 13-over.
Have Club Pro Job, Will Travel: Dennis Miller, the jolly club professional from Youngstown, Ohio, had a huge and loyal following here. Alas, he missed the cut with rounds of 80 and 82.
14-Year Itch award: Proving that the USGA can get too much of a good thing, the U.S. Open has not been hosted by the Olympic Club for 14 years. Great golf course, perfect conditions — we guess it makes too much sense.