A fun thing about Tommy Fleetwood’s final round at the U.S. Open Sunday—apart from the fact that he looks distractingly like Kenny Loggins circa 1981—is that he made birdies. Lots of them! So many, in fact, that he finished with a 63 on Sunday, just one stroke away from a U.S. Open record. Fleetwood’s round and the excitement it generated is a useful example of why the U.S. Open sucks.
Have a look at these two videos and see if you can figure out what they have in common, beyond that they show golfers sinking birdie putts on Sunday:
Have you got it? In addition to showing people successfully playing golf, they include the sound of people enjoying the experience of watching golf. Big loud cheers from the crowd and breathless commentary from the announcers! Where spectators tend to release a sad-trombone-sounding ohhhh when golfers miss important putts, they tend to smile and cheer and in all other ways express excitement when golfers make important putts. Because what beats the hell out of watching people suck and fail at a sport is watching people do well. This is pretty much the entire premise of spectator sports: it is good to watch people play sports well. If I want to watch people suck and fail at golf, I could just go watch myself play a round of golf.
The U.S. Open is determined to put on an annual show that is four days of men sucking and failing at golf. It’s a lousy viewing experience! This year at Shinnecock Hills they they pushed it too far, provoking one golfer to openly exploit the rules, and another golfer to chew them out on live television. Phil Mickelson’s meltdown drew performative scoldings from exactly who you’d expect, but, like, a competitor reacting in extreme frustration is a foreseeable consequence of setting up a course to be as miserable and frustrating as possible!
The USGA spent Saturday night “slowing down the course” in response to basically the entire field of golfers losing their minds over playing conditions, and lo and behold, Sunday was the first day when this miserable tournament was remotely fun to follow. Hey, idiots! The bad golf is bad and dumb and everyone hates it. Just give us the good golf!