By John Strege
Whatever one's preference, the U.S. Open or the Masters, the blue blazers trump the green jackets from a viewer's perspective.
The United States Golf Association hierarchy, though haughty in its own right, at least gives viewers what they want, unlike the Augusta National hierarchy. Recall that at the Masters Tiger Woods played most of his first round out of sight of television or Internet viewers.
Woods is part of a marquee pairing that includes Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott in the first two rounds of the U.S. Open that begins Thursday, and television viewers will have the opportunity to see all of it, on a combination of ESPN and NBC.
Moreover, the Woods, McIlroy and Scott group is one of two featured pairings that will be shown both days via the U.S. Open website or an app available for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices. The other featured pairing to be shown will be Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Keegan Bradley.
Now contrast that with the Masters' two featured groupings it showed from its first round: Peter Hanson, Charl Schwartzel and Webb Simpson in one and K.J. Choi, Zach Johnson and Graeme McDowell in the other.
ESPN, meanwhile, also is starting its coverage on Friday a half-hour earlier, at 8:30 a.m. (EDT) to accommodate more of the Woods' pairing that goes off at 7:44.
Tom O'Toole, chairman of the USGA's championship committee, echoed a familiar USGA talking point in an interview with Golf Channel on Wednesday.
"I think there's probably too much attachment to this par discussion and what that really means," he said.
Then why does the USGA often take holes that ordinarily play as par 5s and call them par 4s, as it does for the second hole for Opens at Pebble Beach and as it did for the sixth hole at Torrey Pines South in the 2008 Open?
That's some rough rough
Arron Oberholser, working for Golf Channel this week: "Walking across the rough on the 18th hole, I lose my shoes every time."