June 10, 2008

Top 10 U.S. Open Lists

Why we love our lists

Everybody has lists. To-do lists. Grocery lists. Guest lists. Laundry lists. "Give me a laundry list," the Italian composer Gioachino Rossini, who died in 1868, once said, "and I'll set it to music."

Even a caveman had lists. Get bigger rocks for the front of the cave to keep the animals out. Get smaller rocks to throw at them.

David Letterman is the Laugh King of Lists. When Annika Sorenstam announced her retirement at year's end from tournament golf, the No. 1 joke of the Top Ten list on his "Late Show" was, "The only putts I have to worry about now is my fiance."

And here and now, Golf World presents the first lists of U.S. Open lists: the 10 most significant Opens, the 10 worst collapses, the 10 best golfers never to win one, the 10 worst venues, the 10 best history-shaping shots, the 10 best whatever.

Whatever the category, people find lists fascinating.

"It's what separates us from animals," Letterman says of his lists. "I guess it started with the Old Testament and the 10 Commandments. And that the author never sued for stealing the formula is a miracle. Every night it's a chance for me to impress my son Harry with my ability to count backward, and it's the best example of our comedy philosophy: Do a volume business of cheap laughs and pass the savings on to the viewer."

Golf's pre-eminent list since 1966, of course, has been Golf Digest's list of "America's 100 Greatest Courses," which has wrought "America's 100 Greatest Public Courses," the "100 Best Courses Outside the United States" and even a list of the best 19th Holes. Is a list of the best Halfway Houses next? "Lists are irresistible because everybody wants to link everybody to everything," says Dr. Bob Rotella, the positive-thinking sport psychologist for several PGA Tour golfers, notably two reigning major winners, Trevor Immelman and Padraig Harrington. "Everybody has to rank things so they know who's best."

Forbes magazine has developed lists (and lists within lists) into an art form. Its latest "World's Richest People" list has 1,125 billionaires. Sorry, Tiger, you're not on it. Yet. Neither is Arnie or Jack. But among celebrities, Tiger, with $100 million in income between June 2006 and June 2007, is the runner-up to Oprah Winfrey ($260 million). Phil Mickelson is No. 16 with $42 million, just ahead of Letterman himself.

There's even a list for the Top Ten Biggest Sports Stadiums in the World. You probably never even heard of No. 1 until now: Rungnado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea. It holds 150,000 spectators, although few from the Free World have been in it.

But there's a way for golf to jump to the top of that stadium list. On the Saturday of this year's FBR Open at TPC Scottsdale, the attendance was announced at a record 170,802, more than three times the estimated crowd any one day at the Masters, U.S. Open or British Open. If somebody were to build a stadium-like enclosure around the entire TPC Scottsdale course, it automatically would be No. 1.

Did you know there's a "301 Useless Facts" list, with a blogger's correction? In fact, there are 308 useless facts on the list of 301 useless facts. But on these Open lists, there are only useful facts.

GOLF WORLD'S TOP 10 U.S. OPEN LISTS

__BEST FINAL ROUNDS __

BY THE NUMBERS

MY TOP 10 U.S. OPENS (PLUS 1)

10 BEST PLAYOFFS

10 PLAYERS WHO MADE THE U.S. OPEN THEIR FIRST PGA TOUR WIN

10 BEST QUOTES

PLAYERS WHO HAVE NEVER WON THE OPEN (BUT SHOULD HAVE)

10 WORST U.S. OPEN COLLAPSES

MEMORABLE BROADCAST MOMENTS

THINGS YOU'LL NEVER SEE AGAIN

BEST AMATEURS (NOT NAMED JONES)

10 MEMORABLE ACES

SIGNIFICANT "FIRSTS"

SIGNIFICANT "LASTS"

HIGHEST OPEN SCORES (BEFORE WORLD WAR II)

HIGHEST OPEN SCORES (AFTER WORLD WAR II)

10 BEST SITES NOT TO HAVE HOSTED AN OPEN

10 OLD-TIME OPEN VENUES

THE 10 BEST PUBLIC COURSES

THE 10 BEST PRIVATE COURSES

10 MOST USED VENUES

10 WORST U.S. OPEN SITIES

10 BIGGEST RULES CONTROVERSIES

THE 10 LONGEST HOLES

10 SHOTS THAT CHANGED THE COURSE OF HISTORY