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USGA resorts to gimmicky pairings

June 8th, 2012 · No Comments

The USGA’s pairings for next week’s U.S. Open at Olympic C.C. fail the fairness test – miserably.

On 7:33am Thursday Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Bubba Watson will meet on the NINTH tee to start their round, not the tenth, which is the customary starting point. (More on this in a future post).  Despite Mickelson’s superior record against Woods recently, Woods beat him by six shots  in the first two rounds in the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines when they played together.

More recently, Mickelson imploded in a marquee pairing at the Memorial, shooting a 79 and withdrawing. Conclusion: Mickelson is a great player, but he is a bit of a head case at the Open, and putting him with Woods opens the gate for some quirky line of thinking that will take him off his game.

The huge throng that will be following the players will make it much tougher for this threesome to concentrate, a situation that could work for Woods if he is truly back on his game, but against Watson whose psyche is even more fragile that Mickelson’s. As a result, his biggest decision could be whether to fly home on Saturday or stay on to enjoy an impromptu vacation in San Francisco.

From the fans point of view, this pairing will result in a case of more is less.  More superstars in one group equals less chance to see some golf. I remember trying to watch Mickelson, Woods, and Adam Scott at that Open in 2008. After two holes of fighting with the swarming heard, I gave up on the big time pairing and went off to watch the field play.

I can understand the PGA Tour trying to soup up the ratings with marquee pairings in regular events. But this is the U.S. Open, for gosh sakes. It stands on its own, and does not need gimmick pairings to boost interest. Besides, the players are under enough pressure as it is and so do not need artificial pairings that destroy all semblance of fairness.

Tags: The Game · The Majors

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