Nothing can shape the perception of a player like one major tournament. Here’s a look at some of the major players in the US Open and what I think happens to them.
There have been whispers that McDowell is Northern Ireland’s answer to Lucas Glover. Surprisingly, that’s a pretty good comparison. They are of similar age and similar skill. McDowell probably looks like a better player because he has more wins around the world, but Glover came up through the American Tour, which is much harder to win on than the European Tour. G-Mac has been a decent sleeper for the most part, which will probably no longer be the case, but this guy is way better than Y.E. Yang when he won the PGA. I’m sure people’s perception of G-Mac is a little high after one major, but I don’t think McDowell is the type of person that will really stand out as overrated for too long. Likewise, I don’t expect him to completely fall apart like Yang.
I saw nothing this week that convinced me of anything other than the fact that Tiger Woods is on his way to regaining his form. As I said pre-tournament, when you look at Tiger you have to ignore EVERYTHING the media says. What isn’t hearsay is completely meaningless. The facts are the guy played golf at such an elite level that it’s not easy to get back to quickly after a six-month break.
What we kept seeing from Tiger is signs of his return as well as lots of inconsistency. This week, we saw more signs of greatness than any week before. He’s hitting the ball well enough to win. He got a few bad breaks, and his short game was sloppy at times. That stuff should come around with time. After watching the Open, I’m more convinced than ever that Tiger will make a full return.
The obvious issue is what will people think of Tiger now. I would have guessed that people would say he’s back now, but I don’t think that’s the case. People are making up things to criticize him for and generally believe that he should win any tournament he shows up for, which is a ludicrous idea. I also think there is a lot of “Tiger is an insufferable asshole” reaction as Tiger struggles that would have been, “Tiger is very focused” when he was playing well. People seem way less willing to root for Tiger now, which could mean he stays underrated at least until he plays as well as the mythical level of 2000 when he cured cancer, too.
My 2-year rankings are too low on Phil because of injury concerns, but I’m happy with where I had him estimated going into this week. Phil played well at times, but played poorly at other times, which is basically the story of his career. The media would like to treat him like Tiger, but he’s nowhere close so his inconsistency is perfectly in line with the type of player he is. Of course, most golf fans will hear no evil on Phil right now despite a suspicious lack of proof that he is anything more than a very good golfer, so I’d expect him to stay pretty overrated.
Of the 3 stars in contention, Els definitely had the best chance to win. I had him at around 30% to win as he made turn, but an unfortunate 10th hole put a huge dent in title chances. Even still, a par-birdie finish would have put Ernie in a playoff had McDowell dropped a shot.
It seems Ernie(who has a legit argument as the second best player of Tiger Era) is still regarded highly by a lot of people. He’s definitely been off the last two years, but his play in 2010 doesn’t seem like a huge outlier given how good he was in the earlier part of the decade. It’s certainly not crazy to think that a guy in his 40s could have somewhat of a resurgent season and combined with earlier years, I’d definitely weigh 2010 more before calling Ernie overrated.
Here’s why I have a hard time calling Dustin Johnson a choker: He was absolutely in contention on Saturday and tied Tiger Woods for the low round of the day. If you call him a choker on Sunday, then you have to realize how good of a round he had on Saturday. Also, I have a hard time calling a player a choker for one round, when he played above average over 4 rounds in one of the biggest tournaments all year. What is more likely, is Johnson is an aggressive player, prone to more inconsistency than many other top players at this point in his career, who made a few bad swings paired with bad decisions and bad luck.
Overall, I’ve done a complete 180 on Johnson, who I originally thought was a one-trick pony. He’s proved in 2 years that he can do more than just hit the ball long. Johnson has a ton of talent, and I think most people realize this by now, but it will be interesting to see how people factor in that 82.
I have no doubt that unless you follow golf closely(as in, you pay attention to top-20s on the Euro Tour) you will never hear the name Gregory Havret again. This guy has ranged from above average on the Euro Tour to worse than average on the Euro Tour throughout his career. Good for him that he had one good week, but don’t expect to hear much from him stateside again.
Martin Kaymer, Matt Kuchar, Sergio Garcia, Jim Furyk
No one is mentioning how well these guys played this week, but that’s because they were never really in “contention.” 4 rounds is 4 rounds is 4 rounds, regardless of when they come. I’m not convinced that recent form means much, but if it does, these are guys that played well this week, but got no attention for it.