Webb Simpson and his wife belatedly reacting to a tape-delayed broadcast of a missed Graeme McDowell putt isn't exactly the stuff of "Golf's Greatest Finishes" — type programming.
Even if McDowell had been in the final group and not off the course when McDowell and Jim Furyk finished up Sunday evening at Olympic Club, his run of eight consecutive pars to close would hardly have seemed clutch.
Such was life at another brutal U.S. Open, where Simpson's 1-over-par 281 was enough to win. It's the fifth time since 2005 that nobody has broken par at the Open. This may not have been 2006 and 2007, when Geoff Ogilvy and Angel Cabrera won at 5-over, but it wasn't far behind.
I found myself defending the Open, and the players in it, Sunday afternoon. Fresh off the links ourselves, my dad, my brother and I watched several top pros struggle to avoid bogies. Neither of the other two were very impressed. Dad — fresh off a triple-digit round off the white tees at the championship-level course that is Dwight Country Club — implied that he could play comparably to the way Tiger and Phil were.
Never mind that the two of them couldn't shoot par at Dwight, or anywhere else, if they were playing best ball. Their point was that it seemed everyone was playing poorly. That wasn't the case, I tried to explain. It was extremely high-level golf, it was just an extremely difficult course.
It's a good thing I was home with only my uncaring wife and dog by the time the tournament reached its conclusion, because the golf became less defensible. Jim Furyk wasn't 3-over over his final six holes only because Olympic is a killer; it was more because he hit several bad shots. McDowell likely wins the tournament if not for a 4-over showing on Sunday's front nine. Padraig Harrington made a run, only to falter with a terribly-timed bogey on 18.
McDowell obviously played some excellent golf over the course of the four days, but as Sunday wound down, it was more that he didn't lose the tournament than he won it.
I get why the Open is what it is. It puts the best players in the world to the biggest test they ever face on the stage of a major. But after watching Sunday's uninspiring conclusion, it made me wonder if holding the tournament at such difficult venues is really worth it.
Was it lacking legitimacy when Rory McIlroy tamed Congressional to the tune of a 16-under 268 at the 2011 Open? Will what Simpson did — eke out a one-shot victory largely because Furyk choked — be a footnote in history relative to Woods' 12-under 272 at Pebble Beach in 2000? Is it really in golf's best interest to make the site of our national championship so tough the best players in the world can't tame it?
Maybe it is. NBC said its ratings were up 29 percent from a year ago. Two factors are, to some extent, artificially inflating them, however. One is that the golf was much more competitive that last year, when McIlroy rolled to an eight-shot win. Another is that, with the tournament being played on the west coast, the key stages were shown in prime time. It's overly simplistic, at best, to say that the public craves higher scores.
I'd contend more casual golf fans are like my dad and would rather spend Father's Day watching scores that start with a minus sign, not a plus sign. That doesn't necessarily make easier conditions the right thing to do, and golf is one of the few sports that might actually take something beyond ratings into consideration when making decisions.
There are a few things I do know. One is that the U.S. Open remains a distant third to The Masters and the British on the list of my favorite golf tournaments to watch. Lower scoring isn't the only reason for that, but it probably is a factor. Another is that I don't watch golf to see a top pro like Furyk turn into a bogey machine. Hold the Open at a more playable venue, and that's a lot less likely to happen.