Sobel On U.S. Open: Something Has To Change

Jason Sobel enjoys difficult courses, but there's a difference between difficult and unfair

Taz and the Moose
June 18, 2018 - 12:25 pm

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Following a drama-filled weekend of golf that had its share of highs and lows, the 2018 U.S. Open has officially ended – and it was quite a sight to behold.

Action Network HQ golf writer Jason Sobel dropped by CBS Sports Radio on Monday to recap the events of Shinnecock Hills Country Club, which gave golfers fits for much of the weekend.

After the United States Golf Association (USGA) dealt with a turbulent experience while hosting the same event at Shinnecock Hills in 2004, executive director Mike Davis swore that the same mistakes wouldn’t be made in this year’s tournament. 

Despite wishful thinking, it happened again. Shinnecock’s course was unpredictable and inconsistent, causing the USGA to receive considerable criticism in recent days.

Sobel felt the criticism was justified.

“Yes,” he said on Taz & The Moose. “The PGA Tour runs 45 events every year, and we never talk about their course set up because they usually get it right. The USGA runs one tournament at this level, and it gets it wrong every single year.”

Saturday was especially frustrating for golfers, as the average score eclipsed 75. While Sobel likes the idea of a more demanding course at the U.S. Open, he doesn’t want it to be unfair.

“I have sounded that alarm for years — I love seeing a hard and difficult U.S. Open,” he said. “The problem is when it borders on unfair. I think what happened on Saturday was that luck was being rewarded more than skill, good shots were being penalized, and bad shots were being rewarded. It was the opposite of what you want to see from a golf course setup.”

Sobel believes the USGA should swallow its pride and hire others to organize courses in future tournaments.

“At some point, something has to change,” he said. “Quite frankly, once you have world-class players who are calling for the PGA Tour to go set up the USGA’s golf course, you should probably start listening to them.”

Brooks Koepka, to his credit, overcame the erratic course to win his second straight U.S. Open championship. He is the first player to achieve that since Curtis Strange in 1988-89.

“He was able to grind back and get into contention, and that’s what you need to do at a U.S. Open,” Sobel said. “I know it wasn’t necessarily the smoothest U.S. Open – you look at some of the scores, and they all look like rollercoasters based on the way the course played over four days – but he was able to stick in there. That’s going to win you a U.S. Open more often than not.”