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Pebble Beach: Game On!

Originally Posted: June 22, 2010

Ann Liguori

Graeme McDowell. (thisislondon.co.uk)

Westhampton - I like Graeme McDowell. He showed tremendous poise and skill while everyone else, except a rookie from France named Gregory Havret, who fought a brave fight and finished second, just one shot out, let the dangerous track at Pebble get the best of them. Pebble beat every one up except for McDowell and Havret, an Irishman and a Frenchman. The course on American soil proved too tough for our best this time, as the two top Americans, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, finished tied for fourth.

Gregory Havret. (golf.org)

McDowell's final score was an even par 284. Many predicted that even par and nothing lower would win this championship. Saying this course played difficult is an understatement. I'd put it right up there with the difficulty of Oakmont as the two most challenging U.S. Open courses I've seen in years due to the speed of the fairways and greens and the trouble the players could get into, from the bunkers, to the high grass, stubborn rough, the cliffs and the big open abyss called the Pacific.

McDowell has game. You just might not have heard of him before this past weekend. He came into this event confident and at the top of his game after winning the Wales Open two weeks ago. He was ranked 36th in the world. He had won five titles on the European Tour. He played on the 2008 European Ryder Cup team. He starred on the golf team at the University of Alabama-Birmingham and became the top collegiate golfer before turning pro.

On top of a solid game and a cool personality, he is just that - cool. He's witty and charming and down to earth. I heard he walked into a bar in Carmel at 11:30 p.m. on Sunday evening without an entourage and drank and hung out with the locals. I also heard that the next morning he looked like he had a hang-over. That he was on the phone a ways away from the U.S. Open trophy he had just won, which was sitting on a table in the lobby of his hotel.

Padraig Harrington. (wordpress.com)

While McDowell was making good shots and decisions maneuvering around the course, the top ranked golfers in the world (Tiger, Phil and Ernie) as well as the guy who led by three going into the final round (Dustin Johnson) were revealing their dark sides. Ernie's game is 'right there,' but he missed too many opportunities when he needed them and came up short, finishing third. Tiger complained about the greens earlier in the week, much to the dismay of the USGA, and could not put four consistent solid rounds together. For most of the week, his putting looked weak. Phil was also up and down and made several questionable decisions. And poor Dustin Johnson. He suffered a mental meltdown unlike anyone in recent golf history. The leader by three over McDowell going into the final round, and leading Tiger by 5, Ernie and Havret by 6 and Phil by 7, Johnson put on an excruciating display of bad shots and bad choices, giving up six shots in three holes when he triple bogeyed the second hole, doubled the third hole, bogeyed the fourth hole and after recovering briefly, went further south, ending up shooting an 82, the third highest score of the day! Hopefully, the 25-year-old will be back and not let such a devastating outcome derail his promising career!

And speaking about promising careers, Graeme McDowell should be more than a one Major wonder. I think he has the game to win more tournaments here and perhaps a few more Majors. I'm sure all of Ireland is still celebrating. And I wouldn't be surprised if fellow countryman Padraig Harrington, a three-time Major winner, who finished tied for 23 at 'plus 7' for the tournament, is happy for him as is young sensation Rory McIlroy, who failed to make the cut this week. The Irish pull for each other. They enjoy the camaraderie of each other and support each other. Now go have a pint on me.

Editor's Note: Just back from covering the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach for WFAN Radio and then the Travelers Championship in Connecticut for Hampton's own 88.3 FM for her Saturday morning show from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., Ann Liguori will host the Ann Liguori Foundation Outback Steakhouse Dinner Dance on Saturday, July 17, starting at 6:30 p.m., at Duck Walk Vineyards in Water Mill, to benefit the American Cancer Society and 'Healthy Children, Healthy Futures.' To register, email the Ann Liguori Foundation at innerview@aol.com or visit www.annliguori.com.

Rory McIlroy. (wordpress.com)

Ann hosts her weekly WFAN Radio radio show every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., heard in the Hamptons on WPPB 88.3 FM. www.annliguori.com annliguori annliguori

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