Thomas Boswell:

Jason Day may be the man of the mo­ment at Cham­bers Bay.

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - Thomas Boswell thomas.boswell@wash­ For more by Thomas Boswell, visit wash­ing­ton­

univer­sity place, wash.— The great thing about an “un­fair” U.S. Open played on an “im­ma­ture joke” of a dystopian “moon­scape” course that may be “one of the worst golf course ever seen” is that, come Sun­day, we know the ul­ti­mate out­come will be glo­ri­ously, un­pre­dictably “ridicu­lous.”

Af­ter all, what can you ex­pect with greens that are “like putting on broc­coli,” even though they are burned out to “the color of cau­li­flower”? Why, it’s go­ing to be like “play­ing the NBA Fi­nals on a slop­ing court with holes in it and no back­boards.” That’d be kind of fun, right?

Hey, don’t blame me. I didn’t say that stuff. Those are the words of fa­mous golfers like Rory McIl­roy, Hen­rik Sten­son, Ser­gio Gar­cia, Gary Player, Andy North, Ernie Els and any­body else you can cor­ner for a few choice words. My fa­vorites: Ser­gio on the NBA anal­ogy and the de­bate be­tween broc­coli or cau­li­flower be­tween Sen­son and McIl­roy.

Great put­ters, their touch nur­tured and honed for years, want to get out of here be­fore they lose their pre­cious feel and chew the heads off their flat blades in rage. But some­body is go­ing to win. Half the U.S. Opens in liv­ing mem­ory have been con­tested on cour­ses that were de­tested— at the time. Yet they keep giv­ing a tro­phy. And no leader, yet, has with­drawn Satur­day night.

The per­fect man for this mo­ment, and this goofy course, is cer­tainly pop­u­lar, gifted Jason Day from Aus­tralia. Day al­ways seems like a pro­to­type ma­jor tour­na­ment cham­pion yet has never won one, in part be­cause he wants to so badly and ex­hausts him­self prac­tic­ing and tenses up.

On Fri­day, Day col­lapsed in the fair­way of his fi­nal hole, and lay there for more than 10 min­utes, sur­rounded by med­i­cal per­son­nel as he re­cov­ered from one of his re­cur­rent bouts of be­nign po­si­tional ver­tigo. Then he fin­ished the hole, wob­bling, do­ing an ex­cel­lent im­i­ta­tion of a golfer com­ing off a stand­ing eight count. On Satur­day, af­ter two bo­geys on his first four holes, Day was al­most for­got­ten by Fox’s am­a­teur­ish TV broad­cast, which al­most ig­nored him for 15 holes. Three Day birdies in the last four holes for a 68 put him at 4-un­der 212 and part of a four-way tie at the top, earn­ing ev­ery­one’s at­ten­tion.

Sam Snead said, fa­mously, “Be­ware of the half-sick golfer.” Slam­min’ Sammy, who loved a wa­ger, would bet any­thing against any­body any time— un­less his foe looked green around the gills. Never gam­ble against foes with a hack­ing cough or a bedrag­gled walk. They’re feel too lousy to swing too hard. So they dis­cover per­fect tempo. They don’t daw­dle over shots and think too much be­cause they haven’t the strength to waste.

Day felt too lousy to be in­ter­viewed af­ter­ward, a huge bonus be­cause half the ques­tions for a third-round con­tender are al­ways about “what it will mean” if you win and at what age you be­gan “dream­ing of win­ning the U.S. Open.” That dis­cus­sion, in­sid­i­ously, en­cour­ages the player to think about re­sults and glory— those hor­rid twin dis­trac­tions— and not process and ex­e­cu­tion.

Ver­tigo has dogged Day for a cou­ple of years and forced him to with­draw be­fore the PGA stop in Dal­las last month. Bat­ter­ies of tests can find noth­ing that would pre­vent him from play­ing golf, yet ev­ery round brings con­cern that his en­emy will cloud his mind, even knock him to the ground again. But if Day can make it around this nearly-10mile hike that in­cludes more than 600 feet of el­e­va­tion-change climb­ing, hemay join Ken Ven­turi as a glazed wob­bly U.S Open win­ner.

Min­utes af­ter his round on the way to his car, Day, look­ing ex­hausted, groggy and al­most dis­ori­ented, said that he felt “pretty dizzy” on the front nine, got “nau­seous on the 13th and started shak­ing on the 16th tee box. . . . I was just try­ing to get it around.”

A Sun­day, a Fa­ther’s Day and a sick Day as champ seems an un­re­al­is­tic tri­fecta, though it will be a rare fan (or chron­i­cler) who doesn’t wish for it. More likely, this fi­nal round may make most lead­ers wish they could take a run­ning leap into Puget Sound and sleep with the or­cas.

Take a good men­tal pic­ture of Cham­bers Bay. Youmay not see it again. This course was built by Pierce County for $21 mil­lion and opened in ’07 in hopes that it would at­tract ma­jor U.S.G.A. events, even though it is an in­hos­pitable treach­er­ous links for fans to at­tempt to walk. Cad­dies are in casts. Play­ers, even Tiger Woods, slip on steep hill­sides and flop on their rears. Oh, and don’t worry about the 100-car trains rolling be­side four holes, at times 20 yards away.

All those con­di­tions, plus the spon­ta­neous nasty player re­views of this joint make it a likely can­di­date for another U.S. Open. Maybe by 3015.

Told of Sten­son’s com­ment about the fes­cue greens— many in­fested by golf’s in­fa­mous weed “poa an­nua”— be­ing like putting on broc­coli, McIl­roy just grinned. “I don’t think they’re as green as broc­coli. I think they’re more like cau­li­flower,” said McIl­roy. “Like, they are what they are, ev­ery­one has to putt on them. It’s all men­tal.”

That’s like say­ing, when you’re cap­sized at sea, “It’s all wa­ter.”

“Give us some­thing to putt on, not this joke,” said Els this week.

On Sun­day, it won’t be funny. Un­less you’re one of the mil­lions who gets to watch the mad­ness. For us, the chuck­les and moans of com­mis­er­a­tion should start early and last un­til very late.


Jason Day shot a 2-un­der 68 and is part of a four-way tie for first.

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