Michael Campbell Takes U.S. Open
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
For 10 years, Michael Campbell was known in the world of pro golf for one dramatic afternoon. It was the day that his game collapsed and he lost a chance at one of golf's major championships. Yesterday it was the turn of other players to collapse. Michael Campbell refused to give up the lead as he won the US Open in North Carolina. Commentator John Feinstein joins us once again.
Good morning, John.
Good morning, Steve.
INSKEEP: Boy, you could see at the very end yesterday how Michael Campbell might collapse again, but he just wouldn't do it.
FEINSTEIN: No, he was unbelievable on the back nine. Imagine being a player who, as you said, had his one great chance at the British Open 10 years ago when he led after three rounds and then shot 76 the last day. And here you are on arguably golf's greatest stage, the last Sunday at the United States Open being chased by Tiger Woods, the world's best player with the crowd firmly behind Woods, and he just made one great shot after another, finally clinching the title with the birdie he made on the 17th hole after Tiger was the one who blinked, making bogeys at 16 and 17. A remarkably dramatic finish for Campbell.
INSKEEP: And something of a frustrating week for Tiger Woods. You could see the frustration on his face. Even by television you could see it.
FEINSTEIN: No question about it. He had a very up and down week with his golf game and with his emotions. He handled himself beautifully in defeat yesterday. He was gracious to Campbell, someone he has clashed with at times in the past, but on Friday, he damaged a green in frustration after missing a putt and was unapologetic about it. He hit the ball superbly all week but couldn't make any putts. He complained a little bit about the golf course, which most of the players were very complimentary of, even though it played so hard that no one in the entire field broke par. But it was really a roller coaster week for Woods.
INSKEEP: Why did this golf course play so hard for so many players?
FEINSTEIN: Well, it gets back to what we talked about last week. It's the greens. They look like upside-down bowls, and if you miss the landing area by inches, the ball can roll forever. Yesterday, people watching on TV, I'm sure, saw shot after shot just go over the green and keep going. Vijay Singh actually putted a ball off one of the greens yesterday. It's a very difficult, fantastic test of golf, and it produced another great US Open.
INSKEEP: So Michael Campbell wins this US Open title and resuscitates his career, if we can put it that way. What else caught your eye about this week, John?
FEINSTEIN: Well, there were a number of things. I mean, you have to talk about Retief Goosen's collapse yesterday, the defending champion. He appeared to be in control of the tournament with a three-shot lead going into Sunday, got off to a terrible start. Now Michael Campbell, remember, shot 69 yesterday to win. Retief Goosen shot 81, and this is a great player. This isn't someone who didn't belong on the leader board. So that was stunning to see. And there was a young player named Jason Gore who's a classic straggler on the pro golf tours. He's ranked 818th in the world, Steve. He played in the last group of the US Open yesterday. Didn't play well; like many players, his game came apart, but he got noticed by thousands of people there and millions on television, and I think for a player like Jason Gore, this will be a huge step in his career, in spite of what happened Sunday.
INSKEEP: What made you feel good about this week?
FEINSTEIN: The way the whole golf course played, the tribute to Payne Stewart early in the week, which I think was genuine and warm, the fact that the leader board was stacked on Sunday. And again, I think the US Open is a unique event because par is a great score, even par 1 this tournament, it's like no other in the world. You can be guaranteed the players will whine about how difficult the golf course is, and if they don't whine, Steve, then it's not the US Open.
INSKEEP: Thanks, John.
FEINSTEIN: Thank you, Steve.
INSKEEP: The comments of John Feinstein. His book, "Caddie for Life: The Bruce Edwards Story," is now out in paperback.
This is NPR News.