Tonight on HBO’s Real Sports, host Bryant Gumbel blasts the United States Golf Association for making the Congressional Country Club course in Bethesda, MD way too easy for the recently completed U.S. Open. Now Bryant is an avid golfer and was Johnny Miller’s original partner when he joined NBC Sports, so Gumbel has good knowledge of the sport. However, Bryant admits he buys into a conspiracy theory that the USGA made the course easier in attempt to get ratings. It’s definitely food for thought.
BRYANT GUMBEL CLOSING COMMENTARY
REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL
AIRS TONIGHT (6/21) @ 10:00 PM ET/PT
“Finally tonight, the U.S. Golf Association should be ashamed of itself. The same folks who like to claim they’re the caretakers of the game took a national championship that has always been revered, and this past weekend, made a mockery of it. Instead of setting up a U.S. Open course, as they always have, to identify the best player. They seem to have sought only to identify the most viewers.
Yes, the course they laid out was nominally long, but as even those who regularly shill from the game noted, they played the tees up, they thinned the rough, and they placed many of the pins in bowls that allowed many balls that were hit to a green to simply funnel to the hole from all directions.
In no way does this discredit the impressive and likeable Open winner, Rory McIlroy. That he finished with a score of 16-under par is remarkable, but that so many made it look like a local pitch-and-putt is an embarrassment. On Sunday, 20 golfers finished this U.S. Open under par. Twenty! That’s as many golfers that have finished under par in the last 12 Opens combined.
Look, as a rule, I don’t buy conspiracy theories. I don’t subscribe to suspicions about Roswell, the grassy knoll, and fake lunar landings. But I do believe USGA honchos sold out this weekend. Knowing the absence of Tiger Woods would cost them audience, I believe they decided to try to make up for it by enabling anyone who teed it up to go low in the hopes that lots of birdies would mean lots of viewers. That their Open plan instead generated lousy TV ratings that were down 26%, suggests that karma’s alive and well in the world of golf.”
There you have it.