USGA Out Of Spotlight In Drama-Free U.S. Open At Pebble Beach
Gary Woodland won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach to claim his first major victory, and despite the USGA coming under fire for its handling of the tournament in recent years, the event "pretty much went off without a hitch this year with no ruling fiascos and very few, if any, complaints from the golfers," according to Mike Sorensen of the DESERET NEWS. USGA Senior Managing Dir of Championships John Bodenhamer prior to the tourney said his goal was to “get out of the way and let the golf course and the players be the story.” Sorensen: "Mission accomplished" (DESERET NEWS, 6/17). SI.com's Daniel Rapaport noted the reviews of Pebble Beach "have been overwhelmingly positive," as the tournament was a "complete 180" from recent Opens at Shinnecock Hills ('18), Erin Hills ('17) and Chambers Bay ('15). Phil Mickelson was outwardly critical of the USGA going into Pebble Beach, but on Saturday he said, "I've got to hand it to the USGA for doing a great setup. It's the best I've ever seen. And it's identifying the best players. It's making the players the story." Rapaort noted it was a "beautiful change of pace" (SI.com, 6/15). Golf Channel's John Cook said the USGA "can breathe a little sigh of relief that they weren't the story this year." Cook:"There wasn't a penalty situation or golf-course-getting-away-from-them situation, like Shinnecock and a couple of others. In that regard, they're breathing a sigh of relief” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 6/17).
PROVIDING A FAIR TEST: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Brian Costa writes the week "played out dramatically differently" than recent years. The course conditions "were soft, though they grew tougher as the tournament went on." The course was "no pushover, but it was fair in the eyes of the players, who widely praised the USGA." The people who run the event "did not take center stage, which is generally how it’s supposed to work" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/17). In Toronto, Jon McCarthy notes players were "raving about how fair the course was, which tells you all you need to know." The course still was a "daunting masterpiece with its tiny greens and thick rough and was enough of a test to identify the best players of the week" (TORONTO SUN, 6/17). In a GOLF.com roundtable discussion, editor Sean Zak writes the course was "set up as it should have been." Writer Josh Sens writes the setup "seemed about as close to right as you could get." Writer Alan Shipnuck: "Bottom line: the players’ p.r. campaign succeeded and they got a course they all thought was 'fair' … which is code word for too easy" (GOLF.com, 6/17).
CAN'T GO WRONG WITH PEBBLE: GOLFWEEK's Geoff Shackelford wrote Pebble Beach is the "best U.S. Open venue, period." Even with "gloomy weather during tournament days, the beauty never ceases to amaze." The week was a "reminder that there is no better place to contest the national championship" (GOLFWEEK.com, 6/16). In San Jose, Dieter Kurtenbach writes Pebble Beach is "everything that the U.S. Open is supposed to be." The course was "ruthless but fair; beautiful, but treacherous." The U.S. Open "should be played at Pebble Beach every five years" (San Jose MERCURY NEWS, 6/17).
SOME LOGISTICAL ISSUES: GOLFWEEK's Shackelford wrote most elements of the fan infrastructure and experience at Pebble Beach were "impressive and noticeably better" than previous U.S. Opens at the course. However, the "monster shuttle bus lines suggested the USGA and Pebble Beach Company sold too many tickets on a course with so many one-sided viewing holes." There also were "empty VIP ticket areas behind many greens as nearby grandstands featured wedge-shot long lines" (GOLFWEEK.com, 6/16).