View photographs from the 2007 U.S. Open in Pennsylvania.
OAKMONT, Pa. - The bear that wandered out on the seventh hole Sunday morning at Oakmont Country Club got away just in time. Just like Phil Mickelson so famously predicted, danger lurked everywhere.
Mickelson wasn’t around for the weekend, though he was surely watching at home with a smile on his face as the carnage unfolded on a hot and sticky afternoon before Angel Cabrera finally emerged as a most unlikely U.S. Open champion.
Before that happened, the third round leader gagged his way to a triple bogey on the first hole and was never heard of again. The best player in the world looked like a 10-handicapper when he bladed a chip over a green, chunked the next one back and nearly cost himself any chance.
Five different times players had at least a share of the lead only to fall by the wayside by making double bogey or worse.
It took forever to finish, and with good reason. No one seemed to want to hit a shot for fear of what might happen next.
This wasn’t a U.S. Open. It was a demolition derby on spikes.
“The next time they have the Open here I might go fishing,” Rory Sabbatini said.
Thankfully, another of Mickelson’s predictions didn’t come true. No one was injured, if you don’t count the bruised egos of a lot of awfully good players.
They headed toward the player’s parking lot muttering among themselves about another typical U.S. Golf Association setup and another familiar result. The best player this week had finally been identified, but even he could only get within five strokes of par by the time it mercifully ended on an anti-climatic tap-in by Tiger Woods.
“It is unbelievable,” Ian Poulter said. “It’s frightening.”
Frightening might not be a word most people would associate with a Sunday afternoon round of golf.
Frightened was the perfect description, though, for how Aaron Baddeley looked as he stood on the first tee with a two-shot lead and thousands of people screaming for Woods to make some magic. Woods obliged by hitting a cannon shot 350 yards down the middle, which Baddeley followed by hitting a lazy flare of a 3-wood into the right rough.
Fourteen minutes later, Baddeley walked off the first green with a triple bogey 7 on his way to a big fat 80.
“To be honest, I was a little bit nervous on the first tee. But that’s normal,” Baddeley insisted. “I enjoyed myself.”
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