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U.S. Open Recap

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It wasn’t the fairy-tale ending to the beginning of Peter Uihlein’s decidedly Disney-like summer, a three months in which he’ll play the Open championships of two different nations and defend his status as “best amateur golfer on earth.” Nor was it an idyllic cap to the social media frenzy stirred and then exploded by the Black Knight (Rickie Fowler) and the “Hunter” (as in Mahan).

In fact, all three missed the cut in a less-than-orange weekend in Bethesda, Maryland. A weekend in which a 22-year old Northern Irishman introduced himself to the sports world as this post-Apocalyptic (that is, post-Tiger) savior of this sport – for what is a game without someone to dominate it?

Bo Van Pelt made the cut with the non-Rory round of the day on Friday – a stealthy 67 that rocketed him up the leaderboard and which he followed up with a 68 on Saturday to share 10th place with three other Americans and a Swede – 12 strokes back of the freckle-faced leader.

I wrote on Wednesday, “[Van Pelt] drives it well, hits a ton of greens in regulation, and has four Top 20 finishes this year including T8 at the Masters and 3rd at The Colonial. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in on of the final few groups on Sunday afternoon.” And wouldn’t you know it, there he was on Sunday with Matt Kuchar, proving himself to be the 6th best American golfer in his country’s own Open Championship. The $130,000 pay day ain’t bad either.

Fowler’s and Uihlein’s struggles were as predictable as Van Pelt’s successes too.

Uihlein, although less than four months younger than McIlroy, is still finding his way amongst the professionals. On Thursday, during ESPN’s gloriously-Tiger-less highlight package, Scott Van Pelt noted, “the kid’s got game…plenty of it.” He does too, it’s fairly clear from the way he sends 5-irons smoking betwixt tree-lined fairways and keeps his short irons on a string, not unlike Barry Zito’s in-his-prime offspeed stuff. You can tell by the confidence of his putting stroke and you can mostly tell by the way he carries himself around the course. He knows he belongs, the process takes time though. Not much different than what the Thunder went through this spring.

Fowler’s game is just not conducive to this tournament. I truly believe he’s going to win a Masters someday, maybe in the next few years, but for him to win this tournament is going to take a miracle or a change in style of play, or maybe both. Augusta is wide open, it’s like landing an airplane on the Autobahn, which is just fine for Fowler’s brash anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better style. Hit it in the pine needles? Okay cool, I’ll snap one out of here and run it up to fifteen feet, bury the putt, and down a beer on the way out. That works in Georgia, not so much at the U.S. Need proof? The Puma-wearing prodigy is currently 146th in fairways hit and 2nd in birdies or better per hole. He’s like Mickelson, but, you know, cool and without man-boobs.

I’m not sure what happened to Mahan. His last eight rounds at Congressional before the U.S. Open looked like this: 69 – 69 – 68 – 62 – 69 – 72 – 64 – 68. So naturally he went out on Thursday and Friday and went 74 – 73. The good news? Since neither Ben Crane nor Fowler made the cut either, at least they can get started on their next video. Just keep your shirt on this time, “Hunter.”

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