By Alex Myers
Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we've had that spectacular U.S. Open theme song in our heads for months. The Yanni-penned masterpiece, "In Celebration of Man," is so inspiring we're pretty sure Johnny Miller sets his alarm to wake up to it in the morning. Don't act like you've never hummed it to yourself when you've struck a solid shot on the course before. OK, so maybe that's just us. . . Still, you should do yourself a favor and give it a listen. NOW. And then come back, of course, to catch up on what is certainly one of the most exciting weeks of the golf year.
Harris English: The golfer with the movie star name broke through for his first PGA Tour win in Memphis thanks to a back-nine 32. Still 24, he seems destined to pile up a lot more titles. Then again, everyone was saying the same thing about Anthony Kim a few years ago. . .
Phil Mickelson: Lefty skipped Memorial, but played in Memphis to tune up for Merion. Not only did he finish T-2, but he provided plenty of highlights, including nearly holing a pitching wedge from 172 yards (172 yards!!!) on Sunday. The window for winning a U.S. Open is starting to close on the man with the most runner-ups in event history, but it is still cracked open.
"Firm and fast"? Eh, not so much. . . (Photo by Getty Images)
Inbee Park: After her win at the Kraft Nabisco, we dubbed her "Winbee." And after winning another major, this time, the LPGA Championship, that nickname is even more appropriate. While Tiger Woods has generated talk of pulling off the professional grand slam in the past, perhaps it's Park who will actually do it. Going against her, though, is the fact there are now five LPGA majors. Tough break, Winbee. Keep it up, though, you're 40 percent of the way there!
Rain: For the past year, we've heard that a successful U.S. Open return to Merion hinges on the weather. It's almost as if people thought if they talked about it enough, then the rain would stay away. Wrong. Instead, Merion got hit with a tropical storm on Friday and then more heavy rains on Monday.
Being Mike Davis: How would you like it if your whole year's work was judged on one week? And what if that one week was still at the mercy of Mother Nature? And what if even if everything went smoothly, you still had to watch out for "Jungle Birds" crashing the trophy ceremony? Sure, there's a big paycheck and some fancy golf club memberships, but being the executive director of the USGA during U.S. Open week has to be about as stressful as being Lindsay Lohan's publicist. Cheer up, Mike. Next year you're only trying to host both the men's and women's Opens on back-to-back weeks at the same venue. Piece of cake!
The end of the Tiger-Sergio feud: Garcia found Woods on the Merion range on Monday and the two shook hands. It seems to be over (although Woods claimed on Tuesday that Garcia has yet to officially apologize). Boo. No, we're happy the two acted like grown-ups and seem to have put their squabble behind them, but we'll miss the drama. Of course, a late tee time on the weekend together could help bring back a lot of the buzz. Maybe one of them could even pull a Lee Trevino and toss a fake snake at the other on the first tee. SPICY!
The year's second major is finally upon us and Merion will host its first U.S. Open in 32 years. That is, as long as the course doesn't wash away.
Random tournament fact: OK, so this isn't random, but Ben Hogan won the 1950 U.S. Open here just 16 months after being hit by a BUS. One of the great wins in sport's history can't be glorified enough.
WEEKLY YAHOO! FANTASY LINEUP
In case you're not aware of "The Grind Jinx," we've put Tiger Woods in our A-list bench spot four times this year. He's won all four times. To all the Tiger fans out there, don't worry. We aren't going to try to jinx the jinx.
Starters -- (A-List): Graeme McDowell. The 2010 winner of this event and a runner-up last year switched his Twitter avatar to the famed picture of Ben Hogan hitting a 1-iron to the 18th green at Merion. Respect.
(B-List): Matt Kuchar. The only multiple winner on the PGA Tour not named Tiger Woods almost seems too obvious of a pick here, but we'd kick ourselves if he won major No. 1 and we didn't take him.
(B-List): Keegan Bradley. Imagine if the belly putter wielding Bradley won the U.S. Open? Talk about sticking it to the Man!
(C-List): Lee Westwood. Westy has had so many close calls in majors, including last year at Olympic, where a lost ball in a tree derailed him on Sunday. Is it his time? Probably not since we're picking him, but you never know.
Bench -- Tiger Woods (Pssst, he's going to win), Jim Furyk, Hunter Mahan and Adam Scott.
TWEET/PHOTO OF THE WEEK
"RT @ManasseroMatto Here Philadelphia .. Recognise this steps ?? pic.twitter.com/4EQcxRBeVn"
OK, so he's still working on his English (Hey, it's better than our Italian), but Matteo Manassero gets an A for effort. He also gets an A+ for his knowledge of American pop culture. The Italian phenom is way up in our book after expressing a like for Rocky, an all-time great movie made 17 years before he was born. It also reminds us of the Rocky theme song, "Gonna Fly Now," one of the only pieces of music that might even be more inspiring than Yanni's NBC ditty.
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK
In case you missed it, this is the cutest golf-related rap music video ever made:
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
-- The Philadelphia fans will go easy on Sergio Garcia: 1,000-to-1 odds
-- Boo Weekley will do the Bull Dance with one of Merion's wicker baskets: 20-to-1 odds
-- One of the leaders on Sunday will have to hit from a divot on No. 18 thanks to EVERYONE trying the Hogan approach: 10-to-1 odds
-- NBC's Roger Maltbie will eat a Philly cheeseteak: LOCK
THIS WEEK IN DUSTIN JOHNSON-PAULINA GRETZKY DISPLAYS OF PUBLIC AFFECTION
Nothing to report from the lovebirds this week. Amazing. Perhaps that even explains Dustin Johnson playing four competitive rounds of golf for the first time in two months in Memphis and even finishing T-10. Paulina did tweet this photo of her taking a blanket with her to the movies.
We just have to ask where that theater is? Those seats look incredibly comfy!
THIS AND THAT
David Frost held off Fred Couples for his first Champions Tour major. We like the senior circuit's ability to produce breakthroughs at age 53. . . The U.S. won the Palmer Cup in convincing fashion. Is it just us, or does the U.S. win every international golf competition other than the Ryder Cup? . . . I recently rediscovered how glorious Rice Krispies Treats are. Is there a more versatile food? From breakfast to in the car to a late-night snack, these bad boys get the job done.
RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER
How much sleep does Johnny Miller get during U.S. Open week?
Is this year's trophy ceremony "Jungle Bird"-proof?
How much would it cost for a personal theme song by Yanni?