Do you like watching the pros struggle?
Dan Murphy: Do we enjoy seeing the pros struggle, as is tradition at a US Open, or is it more fun to watch them making birdies and eagles?
Alex Perry: It really depends on my mood. Sometimes I love watching a good birdie-fest. But then I find it quite exciting to watch the pros being stretched, with nerve-shredding moments where everything can come down to a single shot. Either way, make sure it’s a duel. I’m not interested in seeing someone run away with it – with the exception of those that break records.
James Savage: Think of the best majors to watch in recent years. The Open in 2016 and the Masters in 2017. Yes, it’s great to watch two big guns go head to head but the scoring was good, exceptional at times. I want to see birdies, eagles, course records being broken. If I wanted to see players struggle I could wait for a windy Saturday then go and watch the monthly medal at Moor Allerton.
Craig Middleton: I get a bit bored when the leaderboards are at 18/19/20 under par. I like watching players tested and toughing it out and 1/2 under.
Dan Murphy: How do you get to be a half under?
Craig Middleton: I see what you did there.
James Broadhurst: It’s great watching the pros hook a shot off the tee, chunk the ball into water, or three-putt. It shows that golf is seriously hard and us novice golfers shouldn’t get discouraged when we have terrible time on the course.
Dan Murphy: Yes, I agree with that. Seeing the pros tested to their absolute limits is compelling to watch.
Craig Middleton: Obviously there’s certain exceptions to that. Stenson vs. Mickelson at last year’s Open for one.
Mark Townsend: My preference would be for a five over rather than an 18 under. The Stenson-Mickelson duel was the best major I think I’ve watched for about 30 years but that was a one off. Generally a putting competition isn’t the best. But also watching thick rough and hack outs is dreadful. Personally I like to see rapid greens and balls slipping six feet past from a three-feet starting point. That takes real balls. Hot weather and majors is another turn-off and too hard for my fat heroes in life.
James Savage: I just want extra helpings of Tour Sauce. Club twirls, walking after shots, tapping shoes when coming out of bunkers, death stares at caddies, mini Mickelson fist pumps. I basically want to watch the opposite of what happens when I play with Craig and Alex.
Craig Middleton: Disrespectful.
James Broadhurst: Craig threw a rake at me when we played yesterday.
James Savage: Exactly.
Matthew Beedle: I don’t think the actual score bothers me, I just like to see players have to think more about shots like at the Open rather than seeing them go driver wedge into every hole on the PGA Tour.
Steve Carroll: And at the US Open, they can go driver-wedge when they stick it in the rough.
James Savage: It was interesting to see McIlroy and DJ struggle at the Players where they couldn’t overpower the course with driver on every tee shot. But I’m much more interested when those guys are at the top of the leaderboard.
Alex Perry: For me the US Open should be a one off in that conditions are created for high scoring. We all know what we’re going to get in a US Open and we all accept it before it starts. I like it every few months but always feel dirty afterwards. Like eating KFC.
Steve Carroll: Do we accept it? It feels to me like everyone moans for a week – particularly the players – and then starts moaning again with a month to go the following year.
Alex Perry: Do you moan?
Steve Carroll: For what it’s worth, I don’t like 30 under target golf but neither do I really enjoy watching top class players struggling for bogey on every single hole.
James Savage: I think with any tournament, course or major, there needs to be a balance. A few tough par 4s where par or even bogey isn’t a bad score then some par 5s where the players can attack. That’s why Augusta makes such good viewing. If every hole is a struggle for par then it gets a bit boring for me.
Dan Murphy: The winning score at Chambers Bay in the 2015 US Open when the green surfaces were compared to broccoli was 275. The talk was that it was impossible to get it round.
A month later, at St Andrews, 273 played off. And that’s at a venue sometimes derided for being too easy.
My point is, a lot of the difficulty is down to perception and St Andrews having a par of 72, whereas the USGA so often nibble the par down to 70.
Alex Perry: When was the last genuinely bad US Open?
Dan Murphy: Olympic in 2012 was awful for lots of reasons.
Alex Perry: You’ve obviously forgotten “Birdman”.
Dan Murphy: The combination of the time difference on the west coast and a weather delay didn’t help. There can’t have been 100 people watching on Sky by the end. And the winner wasn’t exactly thrilling. Sorry Webb.
Alex Perry: My live blog that year for a popular pan-European sports network was down to about three readers by the time Simpson quipped, “Enjoy your jail cell, pal.”
Dan Murphy: Does anyone remember Lee Westwood losing his ball, presumed stuck up a tree, in the early stages of the final round? And there faltered another Westwood major challenge. I just thought I was hallucinating by the time Birdman appeared…