The U.S. Opens have now come and gone, and with great success. Here are our 11 favorite moments (We couldn’t settle on 10) from major championship golf’s first fortnight. (And if your favorite moment isn’t listed here, feel free to add it in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.)
11. Kenny Perry’s Wild Ride We have to admit, we had some fun on Twitter with, as Michelle Wie liked to call it, The Native. When a player in contention was met with trouble in the native areas, often leading to a double bogey, we’d hit them with a #COORECRENSHAWED. Of course, the beauty of The Native (Thanks, Michelle. We like that.) is you may also have a shot at the green. And nobody played better from The Native than Kenny Perry did on 14 (with the possible exception of Martin Kaymer’s brilliant approach on the 5th on Saturday).
10. The Greatest Par Ever? Ken Duke was #COORECRENSHAWED, then proceeded to make perhaps the greatest Pinehurst par ever.
9. The Crowd Favorite Playing in what she says is her final U.S. Open, Juli Inkster made a run for the ages in Saturday’s third round. That run came crashing down on Sunday, but the 53-year-old surfaced as the crowd favorite, drawing a loud ovation just as she walked from behind the 18th green to the practice green near the first tee. After teeing off Sunday to raucous cheers, Inkster doffed her cap and appeared to wipe away tears. Sports at its finest.
8. Justin Rose’s Pose We spent much of the Monday a week before the U.S. Open’s first practice round with Justin Rose, who was fulfilling a few media obligations. What we found with the 2013 U.S. Open champion was a man who was cordial, witty, kind and giving of his time.
Then, on Sunday’s final round, Rose honored Payne Stewart by mimicking the famous pose on 18. We can’t say we knew it was coming, but we now know where it came from. Good guy.
7. Rickie Fowler Dons Knickers In Thursday’s first round, Rickie Fowler won our hearts forever, surprising everyone by wearing knickers to honor his favorite player, Payne Stewart. (Note: Don’t miss the wry smile Rickie gives in his answer about pleats in the video at the 1:41 mark. We get it now, ladies.)
6. Arnold Palmer on the Veranda Our U.S. Opens coverage began with a quick video interview with Arnold Palmer, who, while sitting in a rocking chair on the Pinehurst veranda, told us No. 2 looked the way he used to play it, and that he’s decided he has to play No. 2 one more time before he hangs up the game for good. Pretty good start to our two weeks.
5. Looping For Lucy Perhaps the most recognizable men’s face at the U.S. Women’s Open belonged to Lucy Li’s caddie Bryan Bush. Bush, a local Pinehurst caddie, was a constant companion for Li, shepherding her everywhere from No. 2’s famed greens to autograph requests to practice routines. He was her greatest ally between the ropes, and kept her going after big numbers with a simple catchphrase that would crack the little girl up. Nineteen of Pinehurst’s caddies were employed during the U.S. Women’s Open, and Brad Yutzy had the biggest prize with third-place Stephanie Meadow. But it’s Bush who shared the spotlight with Li with class and charm.
4. We Love Lucy There’s not much more you can say about 11-year-old Lucy Li and her performance at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open. Poise in the spotlight, sparkly tank tops, pig tails and ice cream in interviews. Oh, and breaking 80 twice on No. 2. So, yeah.
3. Pinehurst Pulled it Off Michelle Wie calmed everyone in the first news conference on Monday morning of the U.S. Women’s Open week: “There are NO divots,” she said emphatically. She quickly followed that comment with, “The greens are in perfect shape.”
Certainly, Mother Nature did her part, but so did Pinehurst’s incredible golf course maintenance staff, led by Bob Farren and Kevin Robinson. The No. 1 concern for the last five years was whether the women would be handed a second-hand No. 2 after the men had played and left. Farren insisted the course – and the greens – would hold up. They did, and in Sunday’s penultimate news conference, World No. 1 and Open runner-up Stacy Lewis proclaimed of the back-to-back Opens: “I don’t think it could be done anywhere else.”
2. Martin Kaymer is Brilliant All Martin Kaymer did at Pinehurst was establish a new standard of excellence at the Cradle of American Golf. His first-round 5-under 65 was the lowest round in Pinehurst’s U.S. Open history, and then in the second round, he not only matched it, but perhaps was even better, playing No. 2 bogey-free. The U.S. Open was dinged because it didn’t provide the drama of past Pinehurst Opens. No matter. We’ll remember Martin Kaymer’s win instead as one of the most historic performances in the game’s great history. And what better place for more golf history than Pinehurst?
1. Michelle Wie Wins At one time, it was believed Michelle Wie would one day dominate women’s golf so much she would have to compete against the men.
It didn’t happen.
Wie, at just 24, has already had a career’s worth of ups and downs, of great achievements and terrible lows. But her tremendous promise shined in the U.S. Women’s Open on Pinehurst No. 2, and in the end – and really, this is truly just the beginning of Wie’s career – she accomplished what so many once believed was destined for her.
She upstaged the men.
While Martin Kaymer’s victory was more dominant and more historic in the annals of golf, it was Wie’s performance that has shaken the golf world. In a Women’s Open so many feared would be swallowed up by attention – and divots – of the men’s stage the week before, it is Michelle Wie who will live on as the face of the 2014 U.S. Opens at Pinehurst.
It’s the stuff of legend.