Wide Open...

Thank you, Graeme McDowell. You gave the 110th U.S. Open a storyline it sorely lacked throughout the day Sunday. While juggernaut PGA Tour players Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson were unable to make a charge on Sunday afternoon, you played steady, smart golf to win your first Major. 

Golf fans waited all day for some come-from-behind heroics from the usual suspects, but it never came. Would the broadcast have been more exciting if Tiger of Phil could have lassoed some birdies on the challenging Back 9 at Pebble Beach? Absolutely. But while other golfers struggled to get close to par, McDowell simply played a round of golf that the PGA's elite could not muster. 

It was refreshing to see a new face raise a Major championship trophy, even if it was a foreign player winning our U.S. Open - becoming only the 3rd European to win the tournament since 1925. What made it so special was the way McDowell composed himself. Cool and steady, talking to the cameraman as he walked to the 18th green, he did what others could not at Pebble Beach; he tamed his emotions and golf game in unison. 

Seeing McDowell hug his father on the 18th green on Father's Day was special, and a moment he'll never forget. It sure beats having to see Tiger hug his caddy with no family around to enjoy the moment with. 

But what of Tiger Woods...

To analyze Woods, let's take a look at his post-round quotes:

"I made three mental mistakes. The only thing it cost us was a chance to win the U.S. Open."

Think about it this way, even in Woods' current state of mind/golf, if I told you all Woods had to do to at least tie for a U.S. Open win was to shoot even par for the tournament, would there be any doubt in your mind he was tying or winning the thing? 

He made more than three mental mistakes, but also played very exceptional golf on Saturday. There's no question he will be in contention throughout the rest of the year but is it only mental mistakes holding him back? Let's look deeper...

"Every putt I missed was from above the hole. Yesterday I made everything because it was all below the hole. These greens are bumpy enough where putts above the hole, it's just pot-luck." 
Clearly, Woods didn't think the mental mistakes were the only things that cost him this Major. The one big question that remains to be answered about Woods is when he will win again, and it's important to bring another sports perspective into this equation: halftime adjustments. 

Woods knew he wasn't making putts above the hole, but what did he do to prevent landing the ball above the hole on a consistent basis? Yes, the course was nearly impossible to play on certain holes. But if Woods knew he couldn't hit putts from above the hole because it was way too bumpy, he should have adjusted his strategy and swing to accommodate for that. 

It's what great coaches/players do when one thing isn't working - find something else that does. Until Tiger does that, he's not going to be at the top of the leader board when the tournament is over. 

-Tony Bosma