Can an Australian win the U.S. Open in 2006?
Major titles have eluded the Australian Golfers in the last decade. Chris Boulous provides his
indepth view on why so and how the current crop can turn near misses into runaway success.
Over a decade has passed since an Australian last registered a major victory, so to say the Australian
golfing public is overdue for a victory would be an understatement.
The frustrating thing is that Stuart Appleby’s win at the Houston Open last month makes it five wins on
the USPGA Tour this year. So why aren’t we a consistent force in the majors?
More importantly, why haven’t we won a major in 41 attempts? Three reasons come to mind straight away.
Number One: Tiger Woods, Number Two: A failure to master the demanding greens which offer more challenges
then the player friendly tour events and Number Three: The inability to cope with the pressure of four rounds
of major golf on a major course.
Now that’s not much you can do about the first reason, because lets face it when Tiger Woods is on the top
of his game there is not a lot anyone in the world can do to stop him - just ask the field in the 2000 U.S
However, invariably it has been the other two reasons that have plagued Australian golfers in majors and in
my opinion why an Australian will not win the U.S Open at the Winged Foot West Golf course beginning June
Call me a pessimist or a cynic, but the demanding course located in New York, designed by A.W. Tillinghast
- the same person who designed the difficult Bethpage Black course, will test the entire field both physically
and mentally for 72 of the toughest holes on American soil.
There is no place to hide on this 7,264 yard, par 70 course with its narrow fairways, unforgiving rough and
multi- tiered greens, with any mistake punished in full.
You just have to look through the records to find examples of this, with the most famous instance being the
1974 U.S Open, dubbed the ‘Massacre at Winged Foot’ by reporter Dick Schaap, as Hale Irwin emerged the
champion despite a score of seven-over par, as the West Course bared its teeth and showed how tough it can
play if you factor in the weather.
Winged Foot West typifies everything a U.S Open course should be; a true examination of a golfers skill.
As the USGA Open Championship Philosophy states “We intend that the U.S. Open prove the most rigorous
examination of golfers.”
“A U.S. Open course should test all forms of shot making, mental tenacity, and physical endurance under
conditions of extreme pressure found only at the highest levels of championship golf.”
The question is whether the current crop of Australian golfers, who have promised so much, can deliver on
the biggest stage?
There’s no questioning that there is enough talent within Australian golf to win. With two wins on the
USPGA tour this year, a confident Stuart Appelby will lead Australia’s charge into the 106th U.S. Open.
On his day the man they call ‘apples’ can tame any course in the world with his accurate iron play and
touch around the greens, however will have to improve his constancy to be a threat on a Sunday afternoon of a
You can add Rod Pampling and Mark Hensby into this category as well, with both showing there are good
enough to compete with victories on the tour and strong performances in recent majors, but will have to
improve on their concentration for the entire four rounds to figure on the first page of the leader board.
Australia’s number one golfer Adam Scott showed he had what it takes to win a major tournament, when he won
what is widely considered the fifth major, the Player Championship a few years back. But he has one major
problem – putting.
Tee to green Scott can be spectacular, but he lets himself down on the putting surface as he demonstrated
in the Masters this year where he three-putted seven times during the week.
It’s the same story for Robert Allenby, Peter Lonard and Nick O’Hern, who are among the most accurate
drivers of a golf ball in the world, and can dial in on the pins with the best of them, yet they can’t get the
job done where it matters.
Maybe they should get a lesson from Aaron Baddely, who recently broke his drought on the USPGA Tour, and
who many judges rate as the best putter on tour. For Badds it’s all about curving his erratic tendency off the
tee and hitting more green in regulation to be successful.
Then there is relatively newcomer on the scene Geoff Ogilvy, who won the Match Play this year and who is at
the peak of his game. In my opinion he has the all round game and cool head to succeed in a major
His consistency is his big advantage and heads into the second major of the season enjoying his most
successful season ever, joining Appelby inside the top five on the money list. He could be the wild card to
spring a surprise and give Australia a major title.
Australian golfers should draw inspiration from the last U.S. Open held here in 1984, which showed an
Australian can master the course, when Greg Norman was tied for the lead after 72 holes, only to be beaten by
Fuzzy Zoeller in a playoff.
But if one of the Aussie golfers is to win they are going to have to conquer one of the toughest courses in
the world, where the few ‘easy’ holes on the courses must be taken advantage of if you are to break par, and
the tough holes require a prayer and a lot of luck.
In short you can’t hit the rough, putt from above the hole, and you must give yourself clear shots on every
Can an Australian do this for 72 holes?
I would say no, but I thought Michael Campbell was even less of a chance at winning at Pinehurst last year.
So who knows Mamaroneck, New York could be the site for an Australian golfing major. I hope so.
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