June 19, 2012

The Best Story Of The 2012 U.S. Open...

     ...was not Webb Simpson.  It wasn't Tiger Woods.  It wasn't Jim Furyk, or Michael Thompson, or the course itself (which performed very well despite my earlier complaints).  The best story of the U.S. Open was Beau Hossler. 

     The 17-year-old Hossler came to the Open with one goal:  be the low amateur of the tournament.  Instead, he was in for the biggest roller coaster weekend of his life.  My love for Hossler began after the first round, when below Tiger Woods and Graeme McDowell and David Toms was some amateur tied for 7th with even par, only 4 shots behind the lead.  I wanted this guy to win, because it was something that I had never seen before.

     This is the great thing about the U.S. Open.  In a normal tournament, the player you're rooting for has to put up low scores to win.  It's hard to imagine some unknown player consistently scoring in the sixties.  But in the Open, all your player has to do is survive.  And Beau Hossler was surviving like a pro, scoring even par in the first round and making par on each of his first 8 holes on Friday.  Then the story got even better, as Hossler birdied the 17th hole to earn a share of the lead and followed that up with a birdie on the 1st to take the lead outright.  Halfway through the second round, a high school kid was beating 148 professionals at the toughest test in golf.

     Sadly, the great moment fell apart quickly.  Hossler shot a bogey only two holes later, and ended up dropping 4 more shots to put him at +3, again four shots behind the lead.  With two more rounds to go, there was still hope that he could come back and win the whole thing.  Hossler went into survival mode again on Saturday, shooting even par and keeping his 4-shot deficit.  Things looked bleak, but I still felt he had a chance.  If he could just get to +1, he'd be in contention and anything could happen.

     It wasn't meant to be.  Hossler shot a +6 on Sunday, dropping to 29th place.  After all that excitement, he didn't even get that low amateur title.  That award belonged to Jordan Spieth, who barely made the cut at +8 after two rounds and then put up a meaningless 69 and 70 to finish at +7.  For a brief moment, though, Hossler captured the imaginations of golf fans everywhere, and gave us just a little bit of hope that we might see something historic and magical.

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