It's not a U.S. Open telecast on ESPN without Chris Berman. Alas. It begs the question: Why?
There is likely a reason that Berman doesn't work ESPN's coverage of the Masters, which began in 2008. Wrote Leonard Shapiro in the Washington Post in '08: "You can bet your green blazer that the Lords of the Masters probably wanted no part of Berman's boisterous, often blowhard, look-at-me approach to broadcasting."
The USGA apparently has no such objection, given that Berman has been part of ESPN's Open coverage every year since 1986. ESPN clearly does not object. That would seem to put it in the minority.
At least in the morning part of ESPN's coverage he avoided the inane nicknames. He even had a decent line when Sweden's Fredrik Jacobson slammed home a long birdie putt at the eighth hole. "If only the Sedins had put the ball in as well," he said. The Sedins, twins Daniel and Henrik, star for the Vancouver Canucks, who scored only eight goals in seven games in losing the Stanley Cup finals to Boston.
We're still waiting for "David 'Ground Control to Major' Toms."
Bubba Watson and Davis Love III reinforced an old stereotype that golfers are sartorially challenged. Watson had camouflaged pants, Love bright pink pants.
Brock Mackenzie on Twitter: "TV says Bubba Watson is putting for eagle..but I don't see him...those camo pants really must be doing the job"
NBC's Gary Koch, after it was noted that Jim Furyk's caddie Mike Cowan, also known as Fluff, is a member at Congressional Country Club: "You think times have changed? A caddie who's a member at Congressional?"
The membership fee at Congressional is believed to be in excess of $100,000.
Cowan, incidentally, carries a handicap index at Congressional of 7.7, according to the Maryland State Golf Association.
Kudos to Koch for explaining the purpose of a bunker following Jeff Overton's adventures in one.
"He's motioning there like there's too much sand in the bunker," Koch said. "Well, the bottom line is that the bunkers are supposed to be hazards. They're not supposed to be perfectly maintained and easy to play out of every shot. The USGA's made a conscious decision to make the bunkers a little softer this week and you're going to get some buried lies and lies that are less than perfect."
ESPN's Paul Azinger on the new par-3 10th hole: "I don't particularly like this hole. It's so severe. If the green gets hard and a little downwind it's almost impossible to keep it on the green."
Dottie Pepper duly noted that Dustin Johnson left the practice tee and returned to the clubhouse for a change of shoes.
"He had this pair of bright red, white and blue shoes on and said, 'I can't look at that all day long,'" Pepper said.
Johnny Miller on the pairing of the Molinari brothers, Francesco and Edoardo, and another Italian Matteo Manassero: "A few people raised their eyebrows about the comfort level of putting the three Italians together, two brothers and young Matteo. They love each other, play practice rounds together. A bit of an advantage."
Was it? Edoardo and Manassero each shot 74 and Francesco a 75.
Lexi Thompson on Twitter: "Are the announcers ever gonna forget about Rory McIlroy's finish at the masters? I mean come on, you have bad rounds! let it go!!"
And that was before Tom Rinaldi's piece on McIlroy's Masters collapse in the afternoon part of ESPN's Open coverage.
Miller on Fowler, after the latter lipped out a long birdie putt and showed no sign of annoyance: "He takes everything so casually. Like Steve McQueen with clubs."
-- John Strege