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‘Dawgs on Tour: US Open Preview

the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday - Round Two Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Tournament: 122nd United States Open Championship, June 16-19, 2022

Course: The Country Club at Brookline, par 70, 7,264 yards. 20 minutes from downtown Boston, MA.

Purse: $12.5 million total, $2.25 million to the winner. Yes, about half for what the typical LIV Golf Series event pays out, with 3 times the competitors and 33% more golf.

Defending Champ: Jon Rahm. While former Bulldog Russell Henley had a share of the lead after the first 3 rounds, his Sunday 76 dropped him to T13, 6 shots out of first. Harris English shot 68 the final day and moved into a solo 3rd position. But the Spaniard was not to be denied. While Bryson DeChambeau blew up, and Louis Oosthuizen had some late miscues, Rahm hooped two long and improbable putts on the final 2 holes to take the lead and capture the championship.

Fun Fact: The Country Club is the oldest country club in the US, and one of the five founding clubs to make up the United States Golf Association (USGA, which runs the US Open, US Amateur, etc.). They have the main 18 hole course and a 9 hole course, and the championship routing will utilize both: mostly from the main course but sprinkling in a few from the 9 hole Primrose layout - including combining Primrose #1 and #2 to form a single 13th hole for the tournament.

TV Times: Get your Peacock credentials ready. Thursday, 6:45 a.m.-9:30 a.m. ET (Peacock), 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. (USA), 2 p.m.-5 p.m. (NBC), 5 p.m.-7 p.m. (USA), 7 p.m.-8 p.m. (Peacock). Friday, 6:45 a.m.-9:30 a.m. (Peacock), 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. (USA), 4 p.m.-7 p.m. (NBC), 7 p.m.-8 p.m. (Peacock). Saturday, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. (Peacock), 12 p.m.-8 p.m. (NBC). Sunday, 9 a.m.-10 a.m. (Peacock), 10 a.m.-12 p.m. (USA), 12 p.m.-7 p.m. (NBC),

‘Dawgs in the Field: Sepp Straka, Harris English, Russell Henley, Brian Harman, Kevin Kisner.

Tee Times:
Thursday 7:18 am - Sepp Straka
Thursday 7:51 am - Russell Henley, Brian Harman, Kevin Kisner. Yep they’re paired all together the first two days.
Thursday 2:09 pm: Harris English

The course is by itself a storyline, as USGA setups often are. Brookline is, as stated, an old course. It was redesigned in recent years by Gil Hanse (of Southern Hills, Pinehurst #4, and other big time renovations) where they fixed up a few bunkers and greens, removed some trees and overgrowth, and got back to the original intent. Which is fairly tight fairways, many blind tee shots and doglegs, and typical USGA thick rough. The weather is forecast to be dry, so the greens will be running quick. And with the very long rough greenside, you’ll see players struggling to chip or pitch it and keep it on the putting surface.

A couple of ‘Dawgs not playing are Hudson Swafford and Bubba Watson. Swafford has been suspended indefinitely by the PGA Tour due to his participation in the conflicting LIV Golf Series event in London last week. Swafford finished in a tie for 30th with Viraj Madappa and Jediah Morgan (neither of which I’ve ever heard of). He got $156,000 for playing those 3 rounds. And likely received a 7-8 figure payment to make the jump from the PGA Tour. Considering he’s a Tour winner this season, was ranked inside the top 100 in the world (#94), he decided against qualifying for the Open and is sitting this one out. And probably counting his money.

Bubba Watson underwent knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus two weeks ago. Bubba was in the hunt at last month’s PGA Championship before fading Sunday, and was playing on that bum knee. His social media is active again, showing him post-surgery and other fun stuff. But it doesn’t mention that he is likely the latest PGA Tour member to join the upstart LIV series. These are only rumours, and Bubba is obviously not playing for a few weeks/months due to injury, but those in the know say he’s going to make the jump sooner than later.

Keith Mitchell finished 7th last week at the RBC Canadian Open, moving him up to 62 in the Official World Golf Rankings. The bad news is that only the top 60 are exempt into the US Open, and Keith did not otherwise qualify. The good news is that the RBC Canadian Open leaderboard was rife with big names and top players - and the top 2 players at the finish, not otherwise qualified, get an invite to the British Open. So both Chris Kirk and Keith Mitchell will be across the pond in July for the 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews.

Phil Mickelson will be trying to complete the career grand slam, having captured the other 3 Majors and finishing 2nd in the US Open a painful 6 times. He of course is the ringleader of the players joining LIV, by far the most vocal until a couple of months ago when his comments created quite the backlash. Having been recently underground until last week’s appearance, he is eligible for the US Open this year and is on property - though he is a subdued and vanilla version of the Lefty we’ve known.

Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, and a handful of other LIV players are also eligible and also playing this week. Let’s see how the Boston area fans; those beaners known for their compassion, acceptance, and kind treatment towards all God’s children; should make their opinions known. If you’re going to make a money grab, not come clean on it but instead hide behind “growing the game”, then I personally think you’re due for a good ol’ fashioned ribbing from a inebriated Boston crowd. Like every week. You can cry in your platinum-plated beer mug after its over.

For the last 3 generations, the top golfers have switched allegiances and gone after more money. In the 1960’s, it was Jack Nicklaus leading the PGA Tour to break away from the PGA of America in order to concentrate on better tournaments, sponsorships, and purses. In the 1990’s/early 2000’s, it was a more subtle change as the top players in Europe moved to the US and joined the PGA Tour instead of their native European Tour (now DP World Tour). Now, it’s a little more raw; going to a “series” with gimmicks like shotgun starts, very small fields, 54 holes, and unlimited funds that will create multi-generational wealth. The LIV Golf Series is no finished product - the broadcast is limited, the organization a bit sketchy, and the golf is frankly mini-Tour quality. And this isn’t even Greg Norman’s first attempt at such a move.

All that is subject to change, and professional golf may change with it. For now, I’ll continue yelling at clouds yet enjoy the traditional US Open on it’s traditional Father’s Day, playing an old-school traditional course, and watching players I’m actually familiar with. And 5 of those are former Bulldogs. So as always...

GO ‘DAWGS!!!