Tiger wins second major of the year
BY iseekgolf.com | US PGA Tour | 2002 US Open | Wrap | 17 Jun 2002
Despite all the conjecture for months, even years, leading into this great event, the fact that the number one and number two players in world golf finished in that order in the tournament, suggests that the USGA got it pretty close to right.
Tiger Woods, the man with the most complete game in world golf, displayed every aspect of his great skills including that most necessary in an event such as the US Open, a great mind. For a man in his position he was the one that would likely be targeted by the many in the crowd who saw an event like this as their opportunity to get their fifteen “seconds” of fame. That he had the street smart to shut this out, and not get engrossed with the hype, further emphasised the class of the man.
Now seven majors in his last eleven attempts and eight in all, and the breaking of Nicklaus’s record of eighteen, despite the fact that it still seems a long way off, becoming more and more a reality as each major goes by. He will be under immense pressure at the British Open of course as the media focus in on the man most likely to win the Grand Slam in a calendar year.
Tiger was relentless. Too many times this week, and indeed of late, have we heard the cry that the others are not putting enough pressure on him but just how do they do it. After all it certainly appeared Mickelson and all the others were trying. The way some are talking you would think they were not, but perhaps it is but a case of one player being too complete in every department. This man is arguably the greatest player we have seen. To run second to Woods is no mean feat and Mickelson gave it his best shot and came up short. No excuses and no suggestion of backing off by any stretch of the imagination.
The fascination of the week was the course, who it favoured, what sort of venue would it be and had they got the balance right in its set up. It may have favoured the longer hitters on paper but the stats do not necessarily back that up completely. Only three of the top ten were inside the top ten in distance for the week, in fact five were outside the to 40. I appreciate that stats do not always tell the whole picture, more especially in driving distance as players like Tiger tend to harness their power so much. The efforts of Maggert, Hoch, Faldo Price and Byrum however, suggest that there was an opportunity for the strategist, the craftsman and the experienced to plot his way around Bethpage and come up with a result.
Tiger was first in driving accuracy, a luxury afforded to him by his power providing options from the tee, first in greens in regulation and yet 53rd in putting. When you are hitting that many greens however, you are having many more longer putts than those who miss the greens and chip to ten feet or less. So the key stats for Tiger were the accuracy stats from the tee and the fairway. Mickelson’s was inside the top twenty in each category his best being driving accuracy where he was seventh. He putted better than Tiger but he needed to.
Maggert was the leading putter and for the record the two longest hitters for the week John Daly and Cabrerra were amongst the last to finish of those who made the cut.
Maggert’s performance was a surprise especially given that he has had a rough season. But he is the quintessential US Open type player, a grinder, a fairways and greens type, who putts well.
What can you say about Mickelson? One can only hope that his day will come. He is too good a player to have not won a major in more than 44 attempts. His chances at Muirfield are almost nil, as he has yet to record a top ten at the British Open, so we may have to wait till the PGA for him to have another genuine shot at it. He did all he could and, in fact, had more birdies than anyone in the field. As is often the case the rewards for attacking are sometimes counterbalanced by the risks involved.
Lonard was brilliant. Finishing his round early on Sunday, after producing seven birdies in his 67, he made up a lot of ground while sitting in the clubhouse. He moved from around 20th when he finished to tenth then back to eleventh. Another $US119,000 for Peter and more than $US850,000 for the season. His putting which had deserted him all week, and which has been a feature of this season, returned on Sunday and the twenty-six putts for his round was something special on these greens. He rated highly in driving accuracy (15th) and greens in regulation (5th) as most expected he would, as that is his game.
Allenby dropped away after such a fine run through till Sunday. His best finish in a major therefore, remains the 1997 British Open where he was tenth behind Leonard. Appleby, who putted beautifully all week (2nd), had a tough week from tee to green but his last round 69 was one of the best of the day.
Norman to have just made the cut was good and there were many younger players much higher in the world rankings who would have been pleased to play the weekend.
The three New Zealanders all missed the cut by varying margins.
For all those who made the cut it was an achievement in fact just to be playing the event was pretty special.
If I was to highlight apart from Woods several efforts above and beyond the call of duty they would be: Peter Lonard for his top eleven finish in just his second US Open, Thomas Levet in his very first US Open, finishing 18th, England’s Luke Donald a star of the future 18th in his first Open, Jason Caron, Buy.Com Tour player 30th and India’s Jeev Milk Singh in his first US Open making the cut.