Dermot Gillies: The epitome of new age golf is facing an absence of familiar faces

Upon entering the media center in Brookline last Tuesday, the first thing I noticed was the absence of the paper. The customary table next to the registration desk was laden with staple details of every conceivable aspect of a major event.

Further setback was being reported that there was no tournament schedule. Everything could be found online.

Although the general set-up had all the usual ingredients, the atmosphere was strangely different from this writer’s point of view. The familiar faces of many colleagues who had been working for a long time were gone.

It was only then that it struck me that, through a combination of circumstances, geographies and COVID, I hadn’t attended the US Open since Martin Kemmer’s win at Pinehurst in 2014. And suddenly, there was a strange relief at the thought. My last US Open.

My decision to treat Boston as a swansong was based on its relative accessibility. And it was suspected that The Country Club might suit Rory McIlroy’s special talents. The finality of the decision was solidly corroborated by the experience at Dublin Airport, where take-off was delayed by three hours to get through security and two and a half hours after US immigration, while Delta reported a Covid- Contact deleted. by flight.

The idea of ​​circumstances like the start of an exciting new adventure had become something from the distant past. In fact, when we finally aired last Monday, I knew for certain that nothing would tempt me to repeat this test.

Each of the four majors has its own individual character and as with the US Open, proficiency will not be at the top of the list. A perfect example happened in 1993 in Baltusarole—my fifth event—when we were billed at a hotel in Newark.

On Tuesday morning, I joined some British and American colleagues on an official shuttle bus to travel to New Jersey. It was only after we stood still for a few minutes that the driver inquired over the intercom: “Does anyone know where the golf course is?”

That was when the distinguished author, Peter Dobereiner, suggested that he might be able to help by looking at the local roadmap. “Welcome to the US Open!” Another late colleague, Renton Laidlaw, commented sarcastically.

For years, the USGA has clearly taken pride in clearly explaining the seriousness of the test set at its Blue Riband event. The credit was that instead of trying to embarrass the best players in the world, he aimed to identify them. Yet one had to question the strategy that effectively removed the skilful Seve Ballesteros from his roll of honor.

Following their own way of doing things, they often behave like a group of leaderless individuals who are afraid to take responsibility for anything. This was especially evident last Wednesday when clear, precise direction would have been invaluable as their leaders confronted the media over the LIV issue.

Mind you, this was not a comfortable assignment against the backdrop of 16 Saudi Arabians, including Osama bin Laden, who was implicated in the 19 hijackers responsible for the horrors of 9/11. Christine Brennan United States of America today USGA CEO Mike Vaughan asked: “Do you think you have a responsibility to the sport and the country, as the national governing body for sport, to speak up and support 9/11 families and [Jamal] Khashoggi’s fiancee?”

Thursday morning he Reported: “Whan spoke for a minute and 49 seconds and didn’t say a word about the families of 9/11 or Khashoggi’s fiancée. He said he feels a ‘responsibility towards the game’ and the ‘competitors’. He went on to say more about the qualifying rules for the US Open and that he has an American flag in his front yard, but not the ones I asked about.

“So I tried again – ‘And no support for 9/11 families?’ Whan said he had ‘full support for 9/11 families’, but then talked about remembering where he was and what he was going through on 9/11, adding: ‘We had a couple lost to [of] Neighbors,’ before going back to USGA-speak. The other US Golf Association officials sitting next to him offered nothing.

At a time when golf could use some reconciliation, a nice gesture comes from Tracy Stewart, the widow of Payne Stewart, who was killed in a strange air crash a month before the 1999 Ryder Cup at Brookline. Stewart’s Ryder Cup shirt is crafted and displayed prominently in the US Open locker-room last week.

As compensation for Monty’s treatment of Boston’s hostile crowd that afternoon, Colin Montgomery is intended to recall the player’s sportsmanship in accepting the 18th hole in singles.

I came back to meet a notable onlooker, Eric O’Brien, who recently passed by us. As a Boston-based Irish surgeon, he joined The Country Club in 1973 before becoming a notable active member of Portmarnock GC upon his retirement.

“America tends to be ugly at times, and it was ugly America on the golf course,” he remarked to me generally frankly.

Meanwhile, when the grounds for the 122nd US Open were announced, a significant surprise was that Scotland would have only one challenger, Tony’s 30-year-old son, Sean Jacqueline, who won the championship in Hazeltine in 1970. And no one was here until Friday’s cut.

Wishing to delve deeper into the matter, I sought the help of USGA historians who had really come into their own. Our combined efforts led to the finding that the 1913 US Open was famously won by Francis Ouimet here in Brookline from a field of 67 competitors, at least 24 of them Scottish-born. These included former champions Alex Ross (1907), Fred MacLeod (1908) and Alex Smith (1910) as well as legendary names such as Jock Hutchison and McDonald Smith.

Pat Doyle, who had left Delagny only a year earlier, was a native Irishman in the field and acquitted himself, finishing 10th for the $30 prize money.

The idea of ​​such a lack of Scots did not surprise one of the world’s leading coaches, Pete Cowen, after the recent appearances of Sandy Lyle, Sam Torrence, Paul Lowry and Montgomery. “People often ask me why France is not producing more players in the top 100 players in the world,” he said. “Is it a lack of opportunities, or is the crippling effect of stage-fright on the big occasion?

“In my view, the most common problem is stage-fright. And overcoming that is something that can’t be taught. Ideally, you want a player to feel comfortable at every level when climbing the ladder. So that when By the time they come here, stage-fright shouldn’t be a problem.

“This is where Padraigu [Harrington] Having been such a huge influence on other Irish players. Sorry he’s not here this week. When I was asked who works the hardest among all the players these days, my answer is that it’s probably Padraig.

In the end, I’m not reading anything In my designated seat in the media center, which is next to Art Spander, 83, a great figure in American golf writing. He’s telling me that his first US Open was in 1966 at The Olympic Club, where he was working for San Francisco Chronicle,

That was when a 17-year-old schoolboy, Johnny Miller, ranked eighth behind Billy Casper, only slightly less promising, Lee Trevino, who was ranked 54th, participated in round one.

One of our younger brothers had the courage to describe us as ‘The Sunshine Boys’, recalling the 1975 film starring George Burns and Walter Matthau. Another colleague suggested that our position at the top of the center facilitated easy first aid if needed.

Still, it has been a long, fascinating road.