Let’s face it, as much as we love the game of golf it can easily be considered an elitist sport. Initiation fees, manicured fairways and greens, douchey guys named Chip, Beck & Hootie saying if we don’t like you, well you’re not going to be a member of our club are just a few of the reasons why.
On the PGA Tour, The Masters is probably the best example of that elitism. If you are not a member don’t even bother driving down Magnolia Lane and if you’re not a former Masters Champion or one of the Top 100 in the World Golf Rankings there’s very little chance you’re going to be teeing it up at Augusta.
But golf has its little intricacies and one of the best is how regular old run of the mill people can have their chance on the grand stage. This week is the prime example…The U.S. Open.
The U.S. Open is what one Roy “Tin Cup” McAvoy deemed “the most democratic golf tournament in the world” so anyone who can pass the qualifier has a chance. “They can’t keep you out. They can’t ask you if you’re a garbage man or a driving range pro whose checks are signed by a stripper. You qualify, you’re in.”
In other words, it’s open! And this year it’s even more democratic than usual as it’s being played on a public golf course where there aren’t a bunch of douchey members, so anyone can play it, even a driving range pro whose checks are signed by a stripper. Or a stripper for that matter.
Now how does that equate to gambling you ask? Well, some of those qualifiers have actually won the damn thing, at incredibly inflated odds.
Since I’m grouchy, let’s start with the 1996 U.S. Open where I lost a shit ton of money because one of the qualifiers actually won the tournament. Steve F’ing Jones.
That’s right Steve F’ing Jones. I know you’re all saying “who??,” and I felt the same way the evening after the third round when the leaderboard looked like this – Tom Lehman -2, Steve Jones -1, Davis Love III E, Ernie Els + 1, Jim Furyk +1, Colin Montgomerie +1.
I mean come on this guy had about as much chance of winning against that group as I did. Coming into the 1996 U.S. Open Jones hadn’t won a tournament for seven years. 7 YEARS! And that was the 1989 Canadian Open, a far cry from the freaking U.S. Open. So, I did what any self-respecting gambler who thinks he has an edge does. I bet a shit ton of money on Davis Love III.
Well, a day later guess who won. Yeah, Steve F’ing Jones. It turned out to be the only major championship of Jones’ career. What a shock. And at that time Jones was the first sectional qualifier to win the U.S. Open since Jerry Pate in 1976. Leave it to me to lose on something that hadn’t happened in twenty years. Steve F’ing Jones.
At the 2005 U.S. Open, another qualifier named Michael Campbell came to play. Campbell was playing so poorly to start the season he failed to make the cut in his first five tournaments, and he had to gain his U.S. Open spot by sinking a 6-foot birdie putt on the last hole of sectional qualifying.
Campbell would then go on to hoist the U.S. Open Trophy – which weighs approximately 8.5 lbs. – after beating some guy named Tiger Woods. That year I bet on Retief Goosen who was three shots clear after the third round. He shot an 81 on Sunday. Retief F’ing Goosen.
The most recent occurrence is Lucas Glover in 2009. Entering the tournament Glover was ranked 71st in the Official World Golf Rankings and had never made a cut in his three previous U.S. Open appearances. He would go from having to play in a sectional qualifier, to beating Phil ‘Figjam’ Mickelson, David Duval and Ricky Barnes who was another U.S. Open qualifier that year. I don’t remember who I wagered on that year because I’m old and grouchy, but it sure wasn’t Lucas F’ing Glover.
Now having said all that, in the last 10 years, the U.S. Open winners have been the usual suspects, so what does this qualifying nonsense have to do with the 2021 U.S. Open?
Well, Golf’s Longest Day has produced a lot of qualifiers who are hoping that golf’s most democratic tournament will lead them to major championship glory.
Here are some of the sectional qualifiers, their world rankings, and their odds to win this year’s
U.S. Open from BetRivers Sportsbook:
|Odds To Win (at time of writing)
|Erik Van Rooyen
|Rafa Cabrera Bello
These guys aren’t a bunch of nobodies. I mean one guy in here actually won a Masters Tournament. What kind of name is Charl btw? Anyway, am I saying one of these guys is going to win? No. But is there a chance? Hell yes. And isn’t that what gambling is all about?
Plus, those odds are sweeter than yoo-hoo. If you want to make a wager on these guys or anyone else to win the U.S. Open just go to this link.
It’s been thirteen years since the U.S. Open was held at Torrey Pines and if you remember some guy named Tiger Woods won in a Monday playoff while playing with a stress fracture and a torn ACL to capture his third U.S. Open and 14th Major title. Btw, the guy he beat, Rocco Mediate, got into the field by winning a sectional qualifier. Guess who I bet that year. Yup Rocco F’ing Mediate.
One last nugget for this column is horses for courses. Woods who obviously won’t be here has won 8 times at Torrey Pines. Figjam has won 3 times, Jason Day & Justin Rose have won twice, and Bubba Watson has won once.
Obviously, none of those guys have had to qualify for anything in years, but if you want to steer clear of the big names and think about some potential longshots just remember the best thing about the U.S. Open is it’s the most democratic golf tournament in the world. Just ask Steve F’ing Jones.