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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 June 2006, 18:32 GMT 19:32 UK
Why the US Open matters
By Matt Slater
Golf editor

THE 2006 US OPEN, WINGED FOOT
Golf editor Matt Slater waves the flag for the US Open
Comprehensive coverage on BBC Radio Five Live and the BBC Sport website from 1200 BST on Thursday
I know there's only one story in town at the moment, and that it's supposed to be the event of the summer, but I've watched the early stages and I'm not that impressed.

There have been few signs of the predicted fireworks and it has all been very pedestrian.

Maybe it has been a bit hot but it looks to me as if a lot of over-hyped mediocrities have been found out on the big stage.

To be frank, I think Big Brother has had its day. Thank golf it's the US Open this week.

Yes, I realise there are other major events on this weekend but quite frankly who cares about the England v Sri Lanka one-dayer at Lord's or the tennis at Queen's? They're both warm-ups for events later in the year.

For me the real sporting action this weekend is at Winged Foot (although the European Tour's French Open at St Omer is not without merit), so here are 10 reasons why you should care too.

YOU'RE AMERICAN

World No 1 Tiger Woods has not played a tournament since the Masters after his father's death
Beware of the Tiger at Winged Foot
Let's be honest, things aren't going so well for your kickball team at the Soccer World Series.

What are all those other countries doing there? Who knew? Don't panic, though.

Your best golfers are ranked first and second in the world, and this is not just because they get to play the cream of Panamanian or Guatemalan talent four times a year.

They are actually that good and have an excellent chance of winning your home major.

THE ENGLAND GAME IS ON ITV

I was only kidding, of course I know England are playing football on Thursday (slap bang in the middle of the US Open's first round - when will Sepp Blatter learn?).

But just how sporting is a contest between a rich nation of 50m people and a little island of 1.3m people playing a game that the rich, big nation invented? If Fifa really cared about fairplay they would give Trinidad and Tobago a three-goal lead.

And who wants to watch this mismatch with the likes of Alan Curbishley, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Gareth Southgate for company? Talk about groups of death.

No, a far better idea is to watch the game on this site while also keeping track on events from Winged Foot - if everything goes to plan England will have completed their inevitable and uninspiring 1-0 win by the time former Trinidadian (but now Canadian) Stephen Ames tees off.

YOU'RE STEPHEN AMES

Don't think that hitching your wagon to Canada's horse is going to fox the likes of Luke Donald, David Howell and Ian Poulter. If Sven's men hammer T&T you can be sure the English lads at the US Open will be only too happy to remind you about where you were born - Trinidad.

YOU'RE LUKE DONALD, DAVID HOWELL....

Woe betide you if tigerish T&T get anything out of the game. A comedy-dreadlocked Ames will be cavorting around the clubhouse to soca music before you can say "but you're no more Trinidadian than Chris Birchall".

WE MIGHT ACTUALLY WIN THIS ONE

Luke Donald
Luke Donald could show England's footballers how it's done
England's victory over Paraguay was the least impressive performance by British sporting talent since rugby union star Matt Stevens murdered "Mack the Knife" in the final of X Factor.

Having seen the likes of Argentina, Italy and Spain play this week, we're all going to be wailing (Stevens-like) "44 years of hurt..." come World Cup 2010.

But if it's British, and only British, sporting success that floats your boat, golf is your game. We're brilliant at it.

Six Brits in the top 50, three in the top 20, what other sport, apart from ones played in pubs, can you say that about?

And with the perennial favourite Tiger Woods a bit out of practice given his long lay-off following his father's death, this is the most open of US Opens.

It may be 36 years since our last US Open victory but we'll win another before England win a second World Cup.

JAY TOWNSEND

Never mind this newspaper-inspired nonsense about people turning off John Motson's television commentary so they can listen to Alan Green on Five Live.

This weekend you should all turn down Bruce (is he a real colonel?) Critchley and Ewen Murray and listen to Five Live.

Rarely these days are Lord Reith's aphorism about the BBC's mission better illustrated than during Five Live's broadcasts from the American majors.

Iain Carter and Andrew Cotter handle the educate and inform side of things, while American sidekick Jay Townsend does the entertaining.

Sounding much like the spoof Boston United commentator on Sky's Soccer AM, Townsend imparts an enthusiasm for the game that is impossibly infectious. Somebody give this man a quiz show.

YOU'RE AN INSOMNIAC

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying golf is boring - it's restful. And that is very different.

But let's say you're so excited about the prospect of seeing Togo play Switzerland on Monday that you can't sleep.

Sit down, pour yourself a drink (doesn't have to be alcohol but it is the traditional companion), put the golf on and relax.

Watching the gentle rhythms of the noble game is actually better for you than sleep. And that is a scientific fact. I think.

NO MENTION OF OBSCURE BONES IN THE FOOT

Golfers get blisters, sun burn, back ache and very occasionally serious knee injures (but only if they fall off their boats while playing with their children).

But they never, ever, break their metatarsals.

TADD SHORT FOR ROUGH JUSTICE

Tadd Fujikawa
Fujikawa - a Tadd on the short side
Never mind lost balls, there is a very real possibility that we could actually witness the first ever lost golfer at Winged Foot this week.

With the rough at Winged Foot grown to usual USGA specifications - long, thick and nasty - there are concerns about the welfare of surprise qualifier Tadd Fujikawa.

Aged 15, he will be the second youngest participant in the history of the event. And at 5ft 1in he is almost definitely the shortest.

Defending champion Michael Campbell has voiced his fears that the rough is so thick at the New York course you could easily step on your own ball while looking for it.

That is a two-shot penalty. Nobody is sure what the tariff is for trampling on a fellow competitor.

NO SPITTING, SWEARING, BACKCHAT, PUSHING, PLAY-ACTING OR BAD HAIRCUTS

Ian Poulter
Sartorial subtlety is not Poulter's strong point
If, like me and David "Dave" Cameron, you despair of the lack of manners and common courtesy in society these days, know your enemy... it's football.

Quite simply, footballers are chavs with all the social graces of Vicky Pollard and the sporting morality of Machiavelli.

The only one who might wipe his boots before coming in for tea is Owen Hargreaves, and football fans don't like him.

Golfers, on the other hand, are polite, sporting and properly attired (what's wrong with tight, lime-green, flat-fronted trousers?). And only Ian Poulter has a bad haircut, and he likes football.

If you care about the future of this country, make your children watch the golf, not the football.



SEE ALSO
US Open tee times
09 Jun 06 |  Golf


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