SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (June 13, 2012) -- Covering the U.S. Open at my favorite city in the world is in a tough tour-of-duty. Each time I visit my home of 10 years, I relish everything about the city --- the culture, the sites, the food, even the refrigerator-like fog that enveloped my surroundings last night.
But most of all, I love the golf here, especially The Olympic Club. So here are a few early-week observations, in no particular order, about the 5th time "The OC" has hosted The Open.
PLAYERS YOU'VE NEVER HEARD OF...LOTS OF THEM: The Open is exactly that -- wide open -- if you have the handicap or the professional credentials you're welcome to try and qualify. It's funny to watch fans as they walk around the practice green looking at names on golf bags and continually asking each other, "have you ever heard of him?"
On Tuesday, I watched Peter Jacobsen give a lesson to Olin Browne practicing the Gary player-like "walk after it" move to help him release the club and holding his head while he took full swings. Then I watched player after player nipping iron shots off the tight San Francisco lies. Amateur Scott Langley has a pattern on his driver's sweet spot the exact size of a golf ball and it's worn in pretty good for a new club!
CASEY MARTIN: Watching this amazing man limp across the practice green gives me chills. He is a remarkable example for anyone with a physical handicap. Amateurgolf.com has always supported his use of a golf cart in competition, and we wish him luck this week.
AMATEUR FAVORITES: All of the amateurs are extremely talented players, and Patrick Cantlay is one cool customer. I expect Beau Hossler to play well, even though the Southern Californian is still in high school. Last year, when he missed the cut in his first U.S. Open, he expressed being unsatisfied and I sort of laughed -- heck he was only 16 years old and I figured he would be pleased as punch just to be there. But after qualifying for a second straight year and still being in high school, I think Hossler is the real deal and I heard he took a few dollars from Phil Mickelson in the Tuesday practice round.
THE COURSE: Just six weeks ago there were rumblings that the course did not look that good or tournament ready. In fact, either the USGA and Pat Finlen (Olympic Club Superintendant) had a plan - it is in fantastic condition. As for the logistics, I was here in 1998 and the entire commercial footprint is way bigger this time -- it's an amazing achievement. Amateurgolf.com staff member Lynne Cowan, who will be representing Sunice in the merchandise tent this week, described it as a small city. A person could spend some serious dollars there.