Starting 11: The U.S. Open

So this is how my Father’s Day ended, I’m standing in front of our television trying to decide what the opening line will be for Monday’s playoff between Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth — I was thinking Spieth -120 and Johnson +105 — as Johnson stands over his eagle putt to win the tournament. To reach this putt Johnson has had to put together four scintillating shots in succession — a perfect tee shot on 17, the birdie putt on 17 to tie Spieth, a perfect drive and an otherworldly 255 yard five iron to set up a 12 foot eagle. I’m thinking it’s highly unlikely he sinks the eagle putt, but I’m almost certain he’ll make the birdie to lock in the playoff.

I’ve got nearly two grand on the putt — I took Johnson at +1850 — which is a bunch of money for me to have on a couple of golf putts. 

I’ve promised myself that I’ll hedge before the Monday playoff and lock in a grand regardless of the outcome. 

But no way Johnson three putts, right?

And I might just get the outright win here on the eagle putt. What an ending that would be! 

Then it happens, the three putt. Dustin Johnson’s first three putt within 12 feet of the entire PGA season. 

Of course it happened with me with the most money I’ve ever had on the line.

Here are 11 additional thoughts on the U.S. Open. 

1. The Chambers Bay greens were unwatchable. 

Even in HD it was almost impossible to pick up the ball on the greens. Everyone should have been playing with hot pink golf balls this week, like it was putt putt.

The players ripped the greens to shreds in post-round interviews. Sergio Garcia said it was like playing the NBA Finals with holes on the court and no backboard. Billy Horschel said he’d lost a little respect for the USGA. Brandt Snedeker attempted one putt where his ball literally leapt into the air. 

So the greens were awful. 

But what mattered even more was that the greens looked awful on television. 

It was impossible to follow the ball. I can’t even imagine what it would have looked like in standard definition. 

So at one point did the guys running Chambers Bay realize how fucked they were with these greens? A month ago? Longer? How does this happen at the biggest golf tournament of the year?

2. “You have money on Don Johnson?”

This was my wife’s reply on Friday when I told her our guy was in the lead on at the U.S. Open. 

She looked at the screen and saw the name D. Johnson and just assumed that the golfer’s name was Don Johnson. 

Related: we went to the Nashville Sounds minor league baseball game on Friday night because it was Star Wars night and my wife was trying to explain the finer intricacies of the baseball scoreboard to my seven year old because she was siting next to him. “Wait,” she asked me, “do you get credit for a hit if you hit the ball?”

Prior to this question I would have bet my life that my wife understood what a batting average was. 

Needless to say, I would be dead. 

3. Live betting lines are the only way to watch live sports. 

I’m convinced that in the next 10-15 years everyone will watch games like I do — with live betting lines constantly adjusting on a laptop beside you. Even if you aren’t betting it’s fascinating to watch how the markets change during each commercial break.

Dustin Johnson got up to -130 at one point during Sunday’s round. The field was +115. I came so close to hedging then, but I got greedy because Johnson was playing so well it looked like his tournament to win. 

Then he plummeted so much I was afraid to even check the odds. (I was also trying to get my eight month old to bed and changing diapers and feeding him a bottle during the wild final couple of holes. Otherwise I would have Periscoped a live feed).   

I’d much rather see how a casino is analyzing a sporting event and how sophisticated bettors are responding to those lines in real time than hear the analysis of former players. The former player is probably just going to be spouting one or more sporting cliches over and over again.

So I’d love to see a win probability percentage included as one of the graphics on screen.

By the time my boys are in college, I have zero doubt that you’ll be able to bet along with sports events in real time. And it will make live sports even more fantastic.

Related: I think there should be a betting stock market where futures bets constantly adjust. Instead of hedging my futures bet on Dustin Johnson when he became -130 in live wagering, I should have been able to sell my futures ticket to another bettor who wanted to take it off my hands. This would make futures bets essentially stock purchases. Rather than sit around with a stationary futures ticket for months, you could log onto the computer screen and see how your favorite football team opening 3-0 had, for instance, altered their Super Bowl odds. If you wanted to cash out on the value of your bet, you could. It would incentivize so many more people to place futures wagers and make the market that much more fun. 

You should also be able to buy individual player stock with certain player achievements as the futures payout. For instance, see an 18 year old and believe he’s a future hall of famer? Bet on it. Or bet on the number of championships a player will win or how many all-star games he plays in or MVP’s he wins. This way the player stock has value without needing to involve the players in the bets.  

Both of these things need to happen. 

Our gambling laws are hopelessly outdated. 

4. Anyone else expect for Jason Day to collapse on 18 while we were waiting for Dustin Johnson’s putt?

I was totally convinced he was going to collapse in that bunker.

And we were going to have to wait a half hour or more for Dustin Johnson to hit his putt.

Personally, I was hoping they were going to put Joel Klatt in the ambulance with Jason Day. It’s the story Klatt was made to tell. 

5. Jordan Spieth is a dead ringer for Peeta from “The Hunger Games.”

I spent all weekend trying to think of why Spieth looked so familiar and then it hit me on 17 when he had his double bogey — he looks just like Peeta. 

I have no technological know-how, but one of you has to find photos and put them side-by-side and Tweet me. Once you see it you won’t be able to not see it. He’s probably going to end up dating Jennifer Lawrence too.

That bastard.

He’s 21 and he’s already won two majors. And he seems so normal and like a such a good guy. Amazingly, he’s actually undercovered by the media too. Remember the Tiger Woods media tsunami? I feel like we still don’t know that much about Spieth and he’s halfway to completing a majors grand slam.   

Also, how about Under Armour locking up Spieth and Steph Curry as their endorsers? 

Nice move Nike. 

6. Golf fans are bitchy. 

For the past four days every time any of you had an issue with Fox’s telecast, tons of y’all Tweeted me. Like I had anything at all to do at all with this broadcast. I was just like all of you, sitting on my couch drinking a few beers and watching.

I thought the broadcast was fine. The issue was the greens, not Fox. 

Also, if you bitch about Joe Buck, you’re trying way too hard. The guy is really good at what he does and was, news flash, really good this weekend too. There’s no way Buck was any worse at all than Dan Hicks — NBC’s guy for the past several years at the U.S. Open. In fact, none of you even know who Dan Hicks is. The complaints about Joe Buck are what I dislike the most about social media, five or six people with decent sized audiences decide they don’t like someone and then their minions follow suit and pretty soon all the Internet hipsters have the exact same opinion.  

It’s so boringly predictable. 

Anyway, here are my bitchiness rankings of sports fans:

1. Soccer fans

Soccer fans bitch about fucking everything. I love watching soccer, but I hate soccer fans. 

2. Golf fans

The only people more bitchy than old white dudes are hipsters. 

3. Hockey fans

No one is watching your games anyway. Just chill the fuck out. 

4. Baseball fans

Only baseball fans would be mad at Kaylee Hartung for asking about a no hitter on a television interview. But what about the sacred unwritten rules of the game? SHE VIOLATED THEM. 

Seriously, stop masturbating to on base percentages, losers. 

5. Basketball fans

As a general rule, the more people who watch your sport, the less bitching there is. 

6. Football fans

Unless you’re Roger Goodell.   

7. The microphones in the holes were fantastic.  

When you guys weren’t bitching to me about Fox’s coverage, you were missing the fact that this tournament had better audio and better technology than any golf tournament ever aired. 

Catching the conversations was incredible television. 

For instance, the Jason Day, Dustin Johnson conversation about finishing the hole? Superb.

The golf shot tracer technology was also great.

Unfortunately the greens sucking took away a ton of the benefit of the new technology. It was nearly impossible to even see the balls landing on the greens.

On Dustin Johnson’s final approach shot, I’m standing in front of my sixty inch HD flat screen television and I can’t see the ball. I’m judging the shot’s quality based on the reaction from the spectators. 

8. West coast golf is outstanding.

I love when golf tournaments end at night on the east coast. Given that we know the British Open is always going to be morning event — which I also love — and that the Masters is always in an east coast time slot, either the PGA Championship or the U.S. Open should be on the west coast every year.

Seriously, needs to happen.  

9. We need more analytics on golf putts.

Am I the only person who is trying to do probabilities that a golfer makes a putt based on my own likelihood of making a putt and then assuming that the pros are infinitely better?

We should have better on-screen analysis of these putts. I know every putt is unique, but why not put up a make rate for putts of a similar distance all year on the PGA tour? Like, if you’ve got a 12 foot putt — as Johnson did on 18 — how has he done on 10-15 foot putts all season on tour? Or right before his missed birdie putt, how has Johnson been on putts of three feet all year?

I just think it helps to contextualize what we’re seeing. Is this a putt he normally makes or not?

Using basketball as an example, we always get the free throw percentage before every free throw, right? Imagine how frustrating it would be to watch free throws with no idea what the normal make percentage is. Especially late in a game when everythign is on the line.

I just think it would be a really helpful addition.

In fact, it should be standard. 

10. There should be alternate audio broadcasts of major sporting events.

This is something that just makes too much sense. 

Why do we have one announce team for all ages and intelligence levels? It’s not going to be long before smart people start using Periscope to do their own live broadcasts of major sporting events. I don’t mean show the game on Periscope — that piracy fear is overrated because the video feed on Periscope is a pale approximation of what an HD feed offers — I mean just doing their own live audio commentary. 

Hell, I’m going to do this during football season. If a big game is tight coming down the stretch, I’m going to tell you guys to mute your televisions and come hang with me for the conclusion. I’ll call the game and respond to your questions in real time. I’m convinced we’ll get a massive audience and the conversation will be much more akin to what you guys actually want to talk about than what you’re hearing on television. 

For instance, all of you were Tweeting me about Paulina Gretzky there at the end. Well, that and Dustin Johnson’s alleged drug issues. If anyone on Fox mentioned either on air the Internet fauxrage patrol would come undone. But that’s what everyone who reads Outkick wanted to talk about. This comes back to something I wrote in the mailbag, how artificially conservative the sports world is. Sports aren’t covered, at least not typically, in the way fans talk about sports with their friends or buddies at the bar. They’re covered like it’s the goddamn State of the Union address going on.    

I think Periscope offers the opportunity to blow up that divide.

While Outkick might cover the game in an irreverent fashion, however, someone else might be incredible at X’s and O’s or analyzing play calling in a complex way than television can’t do.

Essentially, why have we stuck with the voice of god speaking to all people at once when virtually every other media is about serving niches? 

11. Several additional thoughts:

How about the golfers playing through the train rolling past, but if a photographer takes a picture during a swing they want to strangle them?

If you scream after a golf shot, you should be evicted from the course. If you scream, “get in the hole,” on the tee shot of a par four or five, you should be put in a catcher’s pads and have to stand as a flag holder on the practice range.

How about Branden Grace’s shot coming to rest against the chain link fence on 16? You’re tied for the lead and then you put your tee shot literally against the fence resting on some rocks. Ouch.  

As the top players come down the home stretch, how about showing us where their tee shots have landed the three previous times they played a par four or par five in the tournament? I love seeing their results on the hole the three previous times, but I think a graphic that shows you where they were the other three times they teed off would also be interesting.

I’ve got Vandy +425 to win the college world series. Fingers crossed starting tonight.  


Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.


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