RBC Heritage

Harbour Town Golf Links

The Loop

Media: A minor leading a major and Tiger to the rescue

June 15, 2012

(Getty Images Photo)

It was not a train wreck, necessarily, though it was similar in one regard: It was difficult to look away.

Those who did would have missed an entertaining afternoon that included Beau Hossler, 17, braces on his teeth, a high school senior to be, temporarily wresting the solo lead in the second round of the U.S. Open (see the photo above).

It also included Tiger Woods.

"The field's thirteen-hundred over par to this point," ESPN's Paul Azinger said late in the day. "That's just crazy. Only two rounds under 69, so the course is really holding its own. It's been fun to watch. It's exciting to see the 17-year-old...Incredible story and what a good golf swing."

Woods in pursuit of his 15th major championship helped counter disappointing performances from many of the game's elite, notably its two top-ranked players, Luke Donald and Rory Mcilroy, both of whom missed the cut.

"Fans are waiting for something exciting to happen, but that's hard when half the best players are missing the cut or fighting to make it," Golf Digest's Dan Jenkins wrote on Twitter.

NBC's Roger Maltbie, using the examples of Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson, succinctly said it best. "Watching Bubba and Phil these last two days reminds you of two things," he said. "One, this is really a hard golf course. And, two, this is really a hard game."

Why no 10-shot rule

It came as a surprise to many, including some players, that the USGA had abandoned its custom of setting the cut line at anyone within 10 shots of the lead after 36 holes. It opted for low 60 scores plus ties. So why did it lose the 10-shot rule?

"We've never had a winner come out of that cut, those that made the cut because of the 10-shot rule," USGA executive director Mike Davis said on ESPN..

No respect

Jason Dufner lost a playoff in the PGA Championship, has won twice in 2012, and is the leading money on the PGA Tour. So how does NBC's Johnny Miller assess his chances at the Olympic Club?

"I know he has the game for it, but does he have the stuff?" Miller said. "It's one thing to contend, but to actually finish it off, not everybody can do that. I'm not sure Dufner's at that level yet in a major."

Nerves exposed

NBC's Dottie Pepper provided an indication what was in store Friday for surprise first-round leader Michael Thompson.

"He said to me walking up here [to his first green], 'this is just playing golf, right?'"

Thompson shot 75 and fell to a tie for fourth.

Wearing pink

Miller on Graeme McDowell's pink pants: "You gotta be tough to wear pink pants."

Peter Jacobsen: "Well, pink is in now, you know that, John. You used to wear pink when you used to play in these tournaments, didn't you?"

Miller: "Only when I was playing really well."

Needing an attitude adjustment?

An angry Sergio Garcia busted an NBC microphone on the ground next to the tee marker at the third hole on Friday. Add that to his comment at the Masters, that "in any major I am not good enough," and he is an easy target for amateur psychoanalysis.

"Sergio just seems to be his own worst enemy," ESPN's Paul Azinger said. "He makes statements that you just can't imagine hearing a player audibilize. Your words will take you the directions you want your life to go and he just says terrible things."

Even an LPGA player, Sophie Gustafson, weighed in, via Twitter: "I love Garcia but if he is going to become the player he can (and should be) his attitude needs to change."

'Punch-drunk boxers'

From Derek Lawrenson in the Daily Mail (U.K.) on Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood following their first round: "They went into the US Open as the world's top three golfers. They came out of the first round feeling like punch-drunk boxers who have had one fight too many."

Say what?

ESPN's Curtis Strange: "And the Raleigh, North Carolina native Carl Pettersson."

Pettersson is a resident of Raleigh, but he's a native of Sweden.

On Twitter

Nationwide Tour player Nick Flanagan: "US open cancelled after today due to players hearing that they will never be the player Johnny Miller was."

Comment: Funny, but the fact is that fewer than a handful of players in the field have been or will be the player Miller was.

SportsByBrooks: "Direct TV Channel 703 following Tiger Phil Bubba group. And Berman-free."

Comment: No.

-- John Strege