Big Play with Mitchell Spearman The U.S. Open boiled down to a brilliant two-man putting contest that Retief Goosen won when Phil Mickelson three- jacked the 71st hole

June 27, 2004

ANALYSIS

It's mind-jarring that Goosen and Mickelson needed only 24 and 27
putts, respectively, on Sunday. Shinnecock's severely sloped
greens were the fastest I've seen anywhere in 15 years of
teaching on Tour. They were designed for conditions 70 years ago,
when the grass couldn't be cut as low as it is today. Goosen and
Mickelson are exceptional putters. They both have a gentle,
flowing rhythm, remain still through impact and have uncanny
speed control so the ball just falls into the hole. Mickelson
lost because he made the lone putting errors of the two in the
final round by missing a downhill, downwind five-footer for par
at 17, as well as the four-foot comebacker (above).

THE TIP

For Hard Greens, Putt On Hardwood

When you encounter superfast greens or a severe downhill putt,
imagine that you're putting on a hardwood floor. Don't make any
adjustments in your normal stance and grip. Simply think about
how gently you need to stroke the ball to make it roll just a few
feet and then stop.

AND ANOTHER THING ...

"It's no surprise that the split between Tiger Woods and Butch
Harmon has turned bitter. Every player-teacher relationship is a
marriage destined for divorce."

******

"I admire David Duval for playing in the U.S. Open, but it's
still a complete mystery whether he'll ever be competitive on
Tour again."

******

"Shinnecock was set up unfairly on Sunday, but the course did
exactly what the USGA wanted: Identify the player who can best
handle adversity."

TWO COLOR PHOTOS: MEL LEVINE (SPEARMAN, 2) COLOR PHOTO: COURTESY OF NBC (MICKELSON)

Mitchell Spearman teaches at Manhattan Woods Golf Club in West
Nyack, N.Y., and is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)