Fatherhood has interrupted this blog.

My wife and I welcomed our first child into the world last Wednesday, June 16. The 7 pound, 4 ounce little bundle of joy has dramatically changed our lives in less than a week. Even though we had 9 months to prepare, parenthood is one of those things that, I believe, you have to learn on the job.

The classes and books are nice, but when you’ve got a screaming four-day-old child projectile pooping on your shirt while you’re trying to change his diaper at three in the morning…well, books ain’t gonna help much.

Yesterday, my first Father’s Day, I was able to hold the little man and sit back and watch the U.S. Open. No amount of money could buy a better Father’s Day gift than that. Even with the near constant diaper changes, it was one of the best days of my life. I just soaked it all in–pun intended. I think he’s a Mickelson fan already, so he wasn’t crazy about McDowell winning the Open. He peed on me not long after that final putt.

Parenthood is going to bring major changes. My golf game is about to take a serious hit, more than likely. I’m hoping my blog posts won’t slow down, and with all the late nights to come, my guess is that it won’t. But, like I said, the life changes are totally worth it–and meaningless in comparison to the little man. Golf, restaurants–it all can wait.

Like any new father, I envision a future of throwing the baseball, swinging the golf club, playing in the yard. I can’t wait for all of that. But as I sit here and type up this post in my dimly lit office, with the little 7 pounder curled up in the bassinet next to me, all I want to do is just soak this all in. They grow up fast, I’m told. I’m going to enjoy every second while it lasts–even the projectile poop.

Gotta run.

Nathan Green likes soccer...a lot. (Image: Buried Elephant/Flickr)

Nathan Green is a professional golfer. Perhaps you’ve heard of him? He did win the Canadian Open last year.

Anyway, as a pro golfer, you would expect Mr. Green to opt for an opportunity to qualify for the U.S. Open over, say, watching the World Cup on the television. No-brainer, right?

Think again. After finishing 41st in last week’s Memorial, Green told Golfweek he was scrapping his plans to qualify for the Open on Monday: “I’m really not that interested in playing it,” Green said. “I’d rather sit home on the couch and watch soccer than beat my head against a brick wall for four days.”

To that quote, one veteran Tour caddie responded: “Let’s face it, [not showing up] proves some of these guys make too much money.”

Isn’t that the truth. Look, I’m all for supporting your country in The World Cup. I come out of soccer-watching hibernation every four years to support the U.S. team.

But, even though Green is an Aussie (and that’s who he’ll be cheering for), I still can’t comprehend passing up the opportunity to qualify for–and possibly play in–The United States Open. Wow.

Hey Nathan, have you ever heard of DVR? Geesh.

lucas

(Image: wendyu/Flickr)

You didn’t pick him. Admit it. No one picked Lucas Glover to win the U.S. Open.

Just three weeks ago, Glover didn’t even know if he would be playing in this major. But he made it through qualifying, and played relatively steady over the weekend to hold off Phil Mickelson, Ricky Barnes, and David Duval—who resurrected his game over the weekend, even bringing back the circa 1997 Oakley sunglasses.

I’ll remember this U.S. Open for the stories: the aforementioned Duval’s return from golfing obscurity, Phil Mickelson’s quest to win the tournament for his wife Amy—recently diagnosed with breast cancer—Ricky Barnes’ first true appearance on the national stage since his ‘02 U.S. Amateur title,  and, of course, the rain, the rain, the rain, the rain.

Mickelson worked his way into contention yet again, only to bogey two holes down the stretch. It’s all too familiar. Duval found himself within a shot of the lead late on Monday. Without a lipped-out par putt on 17, Duval would have needed a birdie on 18 to tie Glover. Barnes broke the U.S. Open scoring record over the first 36 holes, but disappeared late on Sunday and never found his game on Monday. This guy has to have one of the more unattractive swings on Tour.

For the second year in a row, we waited until Monday to determine the champion. With Glover as the winner—his first major and only second PGA Tour victory—it simply goes to show you can’t pick this stuff.

It’s easy to prognosticate the safe picks—Woods, Mickelson, Singh. But when it comes down to it, all these guys are capable of winning out there—even on a treacherous course like Bethpage Black. To borrow from a PGA Tour marketing slogan, these guys are just that good.

U.S. OpenIf you’ve got an iPhone and you love golf, you’ve got to download this app.

Beautiful, live video of marquee groups, constant live coverage from hole 17, and real-time scores all day long. Flyovers, hole information…you name it.

The Masters provided a great official iPhone app, and this one looks just as good.

Read more about it here, and download it in the App Store.

U.S. Open Week is here.

My favorite major, my favorite tournament to watch. Period.

Some people criticize the U.S. Open, saying it’s too hard, too tricked up, saying they don’t enjoy watching the world’s best golfers struggle. But not me.

I’d much rather watch a tournament in which even par wins over a tournament in which 20 under wins. I love watching those guys fight for pars. Maybe it reminds me of myself.  

One of my favorite traditions is lounging on the couch and watching all 8,000 hours of the final round coverage. Last year, I went into “blackout mode” while at work on Monday, somehow avoiding co-workers’ comments about the Mediate-Woods playoff. I watched the entire round on DVR that evening. I love the U.S. Open.

So what does the 2009 U.S. Open hold in store?

The Course

bethpage black

How bad will Bethpage beat down the pros? (Image: erova/Flickr)

Bethpage Black is one of the best—and most difficult—public courses in America. A legendary sign in front of the first tee warns golfers about the course’s difficulty. The Black will chew up your 2 handicap and spit it out.

Bethpage Black underwent a MAJOR renovation prior to the 2002 Open. Last year, I reviewed John Feinstein’s book, The Open, which explained the massive changes to the course, as well as the logistical nightmare of hosting this major.

The Black is a beast.  And this course is more ready than ever for a major championship. Read about some of the changes made to the course in preparation for this year’s tournament.

The Picks

Here’s your standard “favorite picks” segment. Every Open Preview has one of these sections. Take it for what it’s worth. No one ever picks the winner, excluding the given Tiger Woods pick.

Tiger Woods: This guy sucks.

Sergio Garcia: I keep picking him to win a major, and one time he’s actually going to do it. ESPN golf writer Gene Wojciechhowski points out that Garcia has never finished under par at an Open. No one is picking him, so why not?

geoff

Watch out for Jee Off. (Image: jackprominski/Flickr)

Paul Casey: Ranked #3 in the world. This is the type of stage Casey enjoys. I seriously think he could be in the final group with Woods on Sunday. It’s been 40 years since an Englishman has won the U.S. Open.

Geoff Ogilvy: Geoff  pronounced “jee-off,” has won twice this year—at the Match Play and the Mercedes Benz Championship. He’s a previous Open winner and legit contender to take the 2009 tournament.

Jim Furyk: Furyk always seems to hang around. He’s not long, but he’s a straight-hitter, which is going to be an asset on Bethpage Black. Maybe the 2003 Open winner will pick up his second major this year.

In Sum

Bethpage Black is the prototypical Open Course. Long, long, long and extremely difficult. The seventh hole alone is a 525 yard par four.

But the best thing about it? You and I could play on this track next week. It’s not a snooty private club; Bethpage Black is a course for everyone. We can watch Mickelson, Woods, and Garcia hit out of the same bunkers we have struggled to play from. That’s pretty cool, if you ask me.

The U.S. Open is here. Enjoy.

bethpage

(Image: Dave_D/Flickr)

If you’d love to play at Bethpage Black–the legendary public course and site of this year’s U.S. Open–here’s your chance.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, qualifying for the “Virtual U.S. Open” begins online today, thanks to the World Golf Tour. Incredible HD images of Bethpage have been compiled to make this virtual version of the course strikingly realistic.

Qualifying ends on June 21. The top 156 qualifiers will battle it out on June 22 for the title of “Virtual U.S. Open” champion. The winner will be the USGA’s guest at the real-life U.S. Open in 2010.

Sounds fun. I might actually tinker around with this, but I have no shot.  I simply don’t have the time to play much online gaming anymore. I’m sure there’s 156 World of Warcraft dweebs out there just waiting to make their mark on the virtual golfing world.

The tournament is free. So if you have the time, fire at the pins.

Image: Dave D/Flickr

Image: Dave D/Flickr

The virtual version, that is.  Sorry about the cheap marketing trick.

The USGA and an online golf game organization called the World Golf Tour have organized an online golf tournament at the virtual version of Bethpage Black, the site of this year’s U.S. Open.

Starting May 25, visitors to the U.S. Open’s official website can play a round on the virtual Bethpage and qualify for the “Virtual U.S. Open,” which will take place on June 22 and include 156 qualifiers. Other than a hearty dose of virtual pride, the winner will get a pass to the 2010 Open at Pebble Beach.

The World Golf Tour allows you to play online golf for free without installing any buggy,  spyware-ridden software. Pretty cool. Since Bethpage wasn’t included in last year’s Tiger Woods game (not sure about the 2010 version), this may be your only chance to play Bethpage without driving to New York.

In addition to Bethpage, virtual, playable versions of The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, Wolf Creek Golf Club, and Bali Hai Golf Club are also available on the site. The graphics look pretty freakin’ sweet.