The U.S. Open
Rick Reilly's comments about what a terrible course Hazeltine is (Payne Free at Last, June 24) made me wonder whether he was watching the 1970 Open, which was also held at Hazeltine. This time around, most of the golfers praised the course.
Greg Norman: "Fabulous....It's a tremendous course."
Rocco Mediate: "Absolutely outstanding....I don't think there's anybody who's going to say one thing bad about this golf course."
Lanny Wadkins: "Perfect conditions....It's everything an Open course is supposed to be."
Tom Watson: "It may be the best Open course that I have ever played."
Perhaps Payne Stewart said it best after his victory: "I love Minnesota."
Coon Rapids, Minn.
Payne Stewart (right) once needed a gimmick to set him apart from the other players on the PGA Tour, so he chose plus fours. Fine. My problem is not with plus fours—Stewart looks great in them, as did Gene Sarazen and Bobby Jones—but with his contract with the NFL to wear the colors of its teams. NFL stadiums are packed. Does the league have to promote its smashmouth sport on the golf course?
Stewart no longer needs a gimmick. His identity has been well established with his Open victory, his second major championship. Besides, would the NFL ever allow the logo of the PGA Tour to be emblazoned at midfield of a Super Bowl?
As for Reilly's referring to the 16th as a hole from hell, I would like to point out that very few of the golfers griped about the hole, and they had to play it. Television commentator Jack Whitaker favorably compared the 16th with the Road Hole at St. Andrews and with the 17th at Pebble Beach. Now that I've seen the 16th, I have to agree.
THOMAS R. MAINE
Early on Sunday afternoon, only a handful of fans were at the 13th tee. One of them was a boy confined to a wheelchair. Davis Love III had just hit an effortless drive down the left side of the fairway and was awaiting his partner's drive. As Love stood there, he removed a ball and pen from his bag and wrote something on the ball. After his partner drove, the caddies and scorer headed quickly toward the fairway. Love veered to the right and, without any ado, handed the boy the ball, which was inscribed: BEST WISHES, DAVIS LOVE III. He then whispered to the youngster, "Have a good day," and strode on to hit his second shot.
Only a wheelchair-bound fan, his father and this bystander saw that gracious act.
MICHAEL J. HOGAN
I was disappointed in Reilly's story. He seemed to think it more important to present his objections to the 18-hole playoff format than to report on the events of the tournament.
The debate about how to resolve a tie after 72 holes is not new. The USGA apparently feels that an 18-hole playoff is the best test of the complete player and offers the best opportunity for lucky bounces to even out when the stakes are so high. No one who watched the U.S. Open playoffs of the last two years can say that they lacked drama, and despite Reilly's grumbling about all the fans who couldn't get Monday off, some 35,000 people attended this year's playoff.
The players recognize that both sides of the debate have merit. Ultimately, however, the format of the tournament should reflect its purpose—to crown a national champion who has endured a minute examination of his game. Reilly might better have commented on the improvements to Hazeltine that have made it a worthy Open venue than to have aired his views on a subject that deserves more serious consideration.
MICHAEL H. GARNER
At last, an article on Stefan Edberg (A Stand-Up Guy, June 24). I've long been an admirer of his gentlemanliness as well as his gracefulness on the court. He makes each shot look so easy. Anybody watching him play can see his mastery of tennis.
So many players are controversial and obnoxious on the court. I guess excelling at your sport is not enough nowadays to get good press—a player needs to make some noise on the court to get written up. I don't have anything against flamboyance, but let's hear more about the good guys, too.
Regarding the Edberg article and its gratuitous lampooning of Norwegians: Was it necessary to repeatedly malign an honorable group of people? My Norwegian grandfather had an effective rejoinder when an oaf like Edberg indulged in such tasteless jokes: "Why do Swedes go into hiding when the fighting begins?" Listeners were then invited to supply their own punchlines, while the offending oaf slunk away.
FRANK W. JULSEN
Paradise Valley, Ariz.
Stewart in practice: minus plus fours and cap.
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