Another US Open Egg Laid by Phil

Since I will be bombarding y’all with blog posts and my sense of rationale on a weekly basis for the next several months, I figured I would provide you with a sense of who I am and what I am about. First things first: My name is Austin Dillard, but I am known by most in the Blacksburg community by “Goose.” Feel free to call me anything under the sun that you think I will respond without being offended.

I was recently hired by the NCCGA as a blog intern (contact if you want to write) for the summer and hope I can continue to serve this wonderful organization until I graduate next spring. I am also currently employed at Ballyhack Golf Club in Roanoke, VA, the place I was born and raised. I will be entering my fourth year at Virginia Tech, home of the Hokies, and serve as the club team’s co-president along side Brian Petrosky. I am a Communication major with a focus in Public Relations and am also a Business minor. Over the past three years, I have been fortunate enough to see our club, as well as the national organization as a whole, grow and mature, providing non-varsity college golfers with the opportunity to play the game they love while maintaining their competitive nature. I am excited for the upcoming year and intrigued to see how the new national tournament format will play out.

Well, like many of us, I was a hair off with my predictions in this past week’s U.S. Open. Here is how Goose fared this past week:

  • Winning score: -5…as tough as Merion was playing, I’ll consider six shots a pretty good miss.
  • Picks: Tiger Woods (T32), Dustin Johnson (55), Steve Stricker (T8)
  • Outside chance: Luke Donald (T8), Zach Johnson (MC), Rickie Fowler (T10)
  • Low Amateur: Michael Weaver (64, 4th low amateur)

First of all, congrats and props to Justin Rose for winning on Sunday. “Rosie” became the first Englishman to win the US Open since Tony Jacklin won at Hazeltine in 1970, more than 40 years ago. Rose withstood Merion’s tough “Three-Act Play” by playing rather spotless golf—for this past weekend’s standards—as he avoided making a single double-bogey all weekend. In a championship in which almost every player faltered along the way, he did exactly what he had to do to capture the silverware: he hung around day-in and day-out, avoided the big number, and putted well. Rose has also confirmed his commitment to play in next week’s Travlers Championship at TPC River Highlands.

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Phil was just “being Phil” on Sunday as he yet again squandered an opportunity to take home the major championships that continually evades him. He gave himself a plethora of opportunities on his birthday and failed to capitalize, finishing in second place for the sixth time in the last 14 Opens. For heaven’s sake, Phil could be the lone player in the field and still find a way to not win it! Don’t get me wrong, I am a proud supporter of “Lefty,” but I find myself torn between which ongoing drought is more frustrating to watch: Tiger continuing to struggle on weekends of majors or Phil finishing second in yet another American Championship? Either way, the sport benefits when these two champions win and I sure hope one of them can find a way to break through in the near future.

Tiger Woods failed to capture his 15th major championship, making it 16 consecutive starts in a major without a win—his second longest being ten consecutive winless outings on two different occasions.

On a final note, Merion fought against the players, the weather and its skeptics to prove to the golfing world why length isn’t always the defining factor to why the US Open is possibly the greatest challenge a player faces each year. As golf fans, we tend to enjoy the weekend fireworks of a major and the brilliance the field exemplifies, but the US Open is the one week of the year in which we get to watch the best players in the world struggle around the golf course. It’s that one week we can relate to them and their frustrations. The superheroes are nearly powerless for 72 holes and it’s not about who’s the best of the best, but it’s who is the best of the worst. The beautiful thing about our championship is that it is the ultimate test of patience and balance of nerves—only a complete player and a true champion has the ability to hoist the trophy come Father’s Day each year.

**Austin Dillard served as the NCCGA's Director of Communications.