After practice on Sunday, some competitors prepared for the opening round of stroke-play qualifying by indulging in this week’s No. 1 purveyor of goose bumps – watching the final round of the U.S. Open. Like most golfers, onlookers from the WAPL got swept up in the excitement of the USGA’s most visible national championship, the majesty of Pebble Beach and the inevitable I-sure-wouldn’t-have-done-that moments.
Aimee Neff of Carmel, Ind., a senior-to-be at Michigan State University, was duly impressed that the field gave it the ’ol college try, but was surprised that Graeme McDowell’s 72-hole aggregate of even-par 284 won the Open. “Oh, goodness, I don’t know if it was Pebble Beach or the players, but the scores were so high,” Neff said.
Lizette Salas was hoping that Ernie Els would bring home his third Open title. But like a Sunday sitcom, an otherwise dramatic plot got derailed just before the credits rolled. “I was hoping Ernie would do something, but it didn’t work out,” she said.
Brittany Altomare, 19, of Shrewsbury, Mass., couldn’t help but feel patriotic and cheered for third-round leader Dustin Johnson, hailed as a major championship winner-in-waiting whose time had come. Johnson had claimed the last two PGA Tour AT&T National Pro-Ams at Pebble Beach and stood at six under par through 54 holes. “It was awesome. It was actually really interesting,” said Altomare. “I felt really bad for Dustin Johnson. I was pulling for him, to be honest.”
Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn, 14, quickly discovered the demands the USGA places on players during an Open test. “It was good. It was difficult and challenging, a very nice course,” she said. -- Andrew Blair