In case you haven't heard, the U.S. Open is at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, New York this week. The tourney is the second of four major championships in golf. The festivities began today with practice rounds. I ventured out to Long Island to take a gander at the course and the field. (No, I didn't see Tiger.) It was only Monday and the atmosphere was already amazing. The tournament officially begins on Thursday and goes through Sunday. Needless to say, it's going to be an incredible week...
The best players in the world will take on Bethpage Black, which is notorious for being a beast of a golf course, that is to say, it is LONG - even for the pros. It's a tough track even in normal conditions, and with the U.S. Open set-up, it's a force to be reckoned with. You better make sure you hit it straight as an arrow, or you'll end up in the gnarly, thick rough. Fairways and greens. Well, isn't that always the point? Yes, but it's especially important at Bethpage, where an errant shot will NOT be forgiven.
In 2002, the Open was held at Bethpage when Tiger Woods (yeah, that guy) bested Phil Mickelson by three shots. This year Tiger is the favorite to win (shocking!). But, Phil is known to be well-liked by New Yorkers - you can bet that the crowds will be rooting for him louder than ever this week. Last month, Amy Mickelson, Phil's wife, was diagnosed with breast cancer. He took leave from the Tour indefinitely, but returned to competition last week. Support for the Mickelsons has been overwhelming, including the Pink-Out staged at the Memorial Tournament. Without a doubt it will be an emotional and sentimental return to Bethpage for Phil. If he wins or even comes close, I think you'll see a lot of teary eyes (including mine).
Anyway, it was fantastic to check out the course today. I spent most of the time watching the players hit balls at the driving range and practice around the chipping and putting greens. I followed a few groups play, including Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott (who is so hot), and Ian Poulter. I caught up with two friends that are competing - Nick Taylor, a rising senior at the University of Washington (and future PGA superstar, mark my words), and Ryan Moore, PGA Tour player. I hadn't seen Ryan in probably eight years. We grew up playing junior golf in Washington. He's kind of a big deal now. It was great chatting with him and I interviewed him via video for my blog. That made my day - well, along with simply being at the U.S. Open!
I'll be out there every day this week. (B-T-Dubs, anyone who has an extra pass to a fancy hospitallity tent, holla at me.) Check out Wei Under Par for more updates and stories. Whether or not you're a golf fan, you should really look into going. Trust me. GET EXCITED. No, seriously.