Michigan Golfer ON-LINE

On the PGA Tour: U.S. Open a disappointing eperience for Michigan’s newest Tour player

Editor’s Note: This is the last in a series of journal entries that Michigan’s Jason Buha has been gracious enough to write for Michigan Golfer during his first season on the PGA Tour. His insight into golf at its highest level has been entertaining and informative.

I went into the first U.S. Open of my career feeling very good about my game. I was hitting the golf ball well going into the week and hit it well throughout my three practice rounds at Pebble Beach. Unfortunately however, in Thursday’s opening round my long game seemed to leave me. I missed several fairways and you can’t play well in a U.S. Open when you are missing fairways.

In the second round I hit the ball much better but it was too little too late. I guess most people would be happy just to play in a U.S. Open, but I have a hard time enjoying playing bad golf regardless of where and when I am playing it.

As far as the golf course at Pebble Beach is concerned, it was a really tough test of golf. You had to keep the ball in the fairway if you wanted to have any realistic chance of hitting the greens and especially being able to stop the ball on the greens. The thing that was frustrating about the course was the firmness of the greens, in contrast to how soft the aprons in front of the greens were. If you landed your ball short it would often stop and stay short where as if you landed the ball on the front part of the green it would still release to the middle or back. It was definitely an advantage be be a high ball hitter on that course, which unfortunately is not my specialty.

One other thing that I found interesting about the course as the week went on was how the rough played. On Monday and Tuesday the rough was absolutely brutal. Due to the fact that it had not experienced much play in the weeks leading up to the event, the rough was long, thick and the grass was growing straight up so that a ball that went into it would go straight to the bottom. As a result all you could do was hit it hard and hope to end up around the greens. You would just have to hit an explosive shot like in a bunker and hope the ball reacted the way you wanted it to.

As the week went on however, with all of the players walking around the course, the rough got somewhat matted down. If you were in the right place you could actually get a lie that allowed you to get a club directly on the ball.

As much as you could complain about the rough however, if you hit the ball well and putted well you could score well, which is just what Tiger did. He drove the ball in the fairway, hit the greens and putted exceptionally well. I think you could say that about anyone who wins a U.S. Open.

I think it would be an understatement to call the U.S. Open just another tournament because it is our National Championship. I think you have to try to treat it like a regular tour event. You can’t try to change your strategy about how you play a golf course just because it is the U.S. Open. You figure out how you are going to play the course on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thurday you take that strategy to the first tee and stick with it.

As far as Tiger is concerned I think that it is fair to say that he has been great for the game and great for the Tour. He has certainly helped take the popularity of both to a new level. I think as far as the players go, the standard that he is setting is going to make all of us work harder. He is raising the bar but I don’t think that he is the only one capable of clearing it. One thing is for sure, if you don’t think you can compete with him you might as well not tee it up.

One thing that some members of the media have done is make it look like nobody else can play except Tiger. I don’t take anything away from Tiger, especially with what he has done in the last year or so, but there are a lot of guys out on the Tour who can really play and I think eventually someone will start to close the gap on him a little bit.

I really don’t feel like I am playing bad golf this season, but it does seem as though I am getting nothing out of my game when it is good, and I am making mistakes that I am not used to making.

I have several more tournaments coming up this year and I am looking forward to every one of them. I have especially eagerly anticipated returning to Michigan for the Buick Open at Warwick Hills this month. You never know - maybe it will be a homecoming to remember for a long time.

Best wishes and good golfing.

— Jason Buha

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