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January 2014

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Recently I saw, again, the final round of a US Open golf tournament at Pinehurst. I'd seen the last one at that venue in 1999 as well, and my first trip to Pinehurst was for a PGA Tour tournament in the early 90s. I've also seen the GGO (now the GGCC) probably half a dozen times at Forest Oaks in Greensboro.

Golf - especially as a spectator sport - is one of those mysterious things that many people (including almost all females) just don't "get." "Isn't it boring to watch a bunch of guys hitting tiny balls with a stick?"

I don't know. Is it?

I like golf a lot. I don't suppose I like it because it's fast paced or action packed, but on a certain level the excitement is still there. I don't normally watch golf on TV (except for the majors, occasionally), but there's something compelling about seeing, in person, a group of people who are undisputedly the absolute best at what they do, even if it is something like hitting a tiny white ball around.

This year's Open was pretty exciting (as far as golf tournaments go) as Campbell, who had posted solid but unimpressive scores for the first 3 rounds, kept rising up the leaderboard by simply sticking near par. When I first saw him under par on the front 9, I had a feeling that he was going to win the whole thing - everybody else had been sliding, and sliding hard. Being the leader going into day 4 of the US Open doesn't necessarily mean anything, as Retief Goosen demonstrated - the leader and odds on favor to win as of his tee off on round 4, Goosen sank 11 strokes in the final round to drop off the leaderboard entirely by the end of the day.

Despite not winning, Tiger Woods was the guy who made this tournament interesting. While Campbell won by just playing solid golf all day long, Tiger's ups and downs had the crowd enthralled. Opening with 2 bogeys off the start (I saw both of them), he looked to be backsliding rapidly going in - and he was sitting about 7 strokes off the lead at one point. I was ready to write him off then, but he made several birdies to get back under par for the day and make it a great finish. Campbell walked up to the 18th hole with a 3 stroke lead over Woods, who was sitting in the clubhouse, and ended up bogeying the hole to win by 2 strokes. At that point you have to look back at Tiger's opening two bogeys, or his dreadful 3 put on 17 from 10 feet, and you start to realize just how close this thing really was.

All in all, it was a great experience, and I don't know that I could've asked for a better way to spend Father's Day with my dad and uncle. My Grandfather unfortunately cancelled on us the previous night, and I can't really tell you how disappointing that was - golf is one of those few hobbies that the men in my family share, and to see my Grandfather ducking out of something like this on Father's Day makes me really worry about his mental health and wellbeing. It really was a disturbing shadow hanging over an otherwise wonderful event, and I just wish there's something I could do to help him.

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