With all of the rain and weather delays the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black started out as dull as many British Opens, but by Monday morning it evolved into quite a thrilling final round thanks to the lead horses coming back to the field. Here are some various thoughts...
Kudos to Tiger and Phil for grinding it out and somehow getting into contention when it looked like they had no chance after 36 holes. They did the same thing at The Masters earlier this year. Golf fans always tend to focus on the majors and total tournament victories, but to me Tiger's legacy will be his ability to somehow always put himself in contention even when he's off his game.
Phil Mickelson did not choke. Critics will say that all he needed to do was par the last four holes and he would have been in a playoff, which is a convenient way of glossing over the fact that 15 and 17 were playing as the two most difficult holes on the course and many other players missed the same short putts on those greens. Let's not forget that he had to drop some long birdie putts and make an amazing eagle to even get a share of the lead to begin with.
Lucas Glover may be a bit of a dark horse winner, but his victory wasn't nearly as surprising as many are making it out to be. Yes, he only has one career victory on tour, but Glover has been playing some solid golf this season, particularly in some of the more noteworthy events. 19th at the Bob Hope, 3rd at the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines, 11th at Arnie's event at Bay Hill, and 2nd at the Quail Hollow Championship. The guy has been in the mix all year long.
David Duval may really be back. It's far too easy for a player to perform well at a major and then read too much into it, but Duval has been telling anyone who would listen for the past several months that his game is getting back on track. So while it was a pleasant surprise to see him with a share of the lead with only a few holes remaining, it wasn't as shocking as you might think. Don't be surprised when his name is in the mix next month at The British Open - it may have been a life-time ago, but he's won it before. How can you not be cheering for Double D at this point? The PGA could use his presence right now.
Sure, Ricky Barnes blew a huge lead as the 54-hole leader, but it's extremely common for a young or no-name golfer to be in his position at the U.S. Open and then quickly fade from contention. Think Jason Gore a few years ago, who finished with a final round 81. Give Barnes credit for toughing it out and still finishing as runner-up. He hit several fantastic putts that should have dropped, particularly on the final hole - I still can't believe his birdie putt missed. It certainly would have made Glover's 4-footer a heck of a lot more difficult. I don't think this is the last we'll hear of him.