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PGA TOUR CONFIDENTIAL
Michael Bamberger
June 14, 2009
WHO'S MOST LIKELY TO WIN THE U.S. OPEN AND WHY
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June 14, 2009

Pga Tour Confidential

WHO'S MOST LIKELY TO WIN THE U.S. OPEN AND WHY

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SHIPNUCK: Considering Winged Foot and what's happening to Amy now, if Phil wins this Open it would be on the same level as Nicklaus at Augusta in '86 or Tiger in '97.

VAN SICKLE: Just showing up makes Phil a front-page, win-one-for-Amy story. The media will pounce on it with both tear ducts. No matter what Tiger does, the spotlight will be on Phil and his every move.

BAMBERGER: In my experience New York sports fans have tremendous b.s. detectors. If they like a guy, they generally know what they're doing. I thought Bethpage was a validation for Phil last time. I know the other players have a hard time with Phil—I'm not really sure why. He's great value for fans, he's great for golf, and the New York fans figured that out very quickly.

SHIPNUCK: The one caveat is they took to Phil out of desperation because Tiger had won seven out of 11 majors and was at the height of his dominance. Phil was the only guy even close. Nobody wanted a coronation on Sunday. They wanted a showdown.

BAMBERGER: That's right, and also Bethpage is Mets country, not Yankees country.

HACK: You said it. Tiger is the Yankees; Phil is the Mets.

OPEN ON A ROLL

VAN SICKLE: After some missteps, like at Shinnecock Hills and Olympia Fields and even Olympic, we've had three good Opens in a row. Has the U.S. Open's stock risen?

BAMBERGER: Olympia Fields was a bad course. Shinnecock obviously led to a rethinking of the Open. Mike Davis, who sets up the Open courses now, is like the USGA's white knight. He really brought art to the idea of setting up a course. They had to hit rock bottom first, and now the Opens are fantastic. Davis has brought out the best in each layout. And anytime Tiger is in contention or wins, it elevates your tournament.

ANONYMOUS PRO: Davis brought a little sanity. It's not ridiculously impossible anymore. The Open is unfairly judged by who's in the final group, as Michael said. If it's Brian Gay and Henrik Stenson, people will forget about the Bethpage Open. If the big guns play well, it validates the tournament. Tiger breathed life into last year's Open. It was one of the best Opens I can remember.

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