Travelers Championship

TPC River Highlands

The Loop

U.S. Open Contest

We continue to get interesting comment on the U.S. Open Contest, which will conclude on June 6th when Tony Romo, Matt Lauer and Justin Timberlake join contest winner John Atkinson at Torrey Pines. Most of the comments focus on the playing level of the amateur finalists.

Here's TJ Keegan of Parrish, Florida:

I've been following your US Open experiment with some amusement. First, you ask for average golfers and then pick guys that are less than 10 handicappers. You need to get out into the real golf world. If this is your idea of an average golfer then you are writing for the wrong group of people. Plus, average golfers don't spend over $100 playing golf - our game isn't good enough. An average golfer is more likely to be at least an 18 handicapper playing from no more than 6400 yards. He is not competing for the club championship if he even belongs to a club. He might carry 210 yards on his drive - on a good day. The only way he is going to break 120 on the US Open course is to hit a wedge to the ladies tee and then play safe from there; not very exciting golf but workable.

TJ, you're absolutely right about who is an average golfer. But we were trying to play off Tiger's comment that a 10-handicap could not break 100 on an Open course. That challenge is intriguing; and we, like you, concluded that any handicap much higher than 10 had no chance. Watching an 18 play Torrey Pines in Open condition would not only not be exciting; it would be downright painful.

Hank Haney, in his comments to our semi-finalists, made the point that even a 10 was going to have to play great golf to succeed and Haney was quite sure that, under the gun, he wouldn't. Gary Smith of Bethesda found Haney's "tough love", as recounted in Jerry Tarde's June Editor's Letter, to be just plain mean. But there are plenty of tour pros who think he's right on. Smith also wishes contest winner John Atkinson were playing by himself.

My gosh,> Timberlake, Romo and Lauer are joining the foursome? I feel badly for the winner as these three guys -- who undoubtedly come equipped with super-large egos -- will be arm-wrestling for the spotlight. Couldn't the contest winner have had his day in the sun alone?

Gary, this may be a case of misery getting some company. Give these stars some credit for putting their games on display. The spotlight they receive in San Diego may not be the one their accustomed to; it could be harsh indeed.

--Bob Carney