Welcome to the first installment of “Gorman vs Geary,” a recurring column where we debate a variety of trending golf topics.
Tom and I have been trying to tear each others hearts out now, in this format, for a decade and we’ve moved our literary feud to Pro Golf Weekly. We hope you enjoy this as much as we do.
One thing you will soon discover is that I almost always win these debates, just as I almost always beat Mr. Gorman on the course. Its not difficult. In a war of wit and reason Tom tries hard but he tends to bring a knife to a gunfight.
We are touching on three topics here:
- Who was the greatest U.S. Open Champion, Jack or Tiger?
- Are U.S. Open courses set up fairly?
- Who is a better analyst on Fox golf telecasts, Brad Faxon or Paul Azinger?
1. Who was the greatest U.S. Open Champion, Jack or Tiger?
Tim Geary: Of course Jack Nicklaus is the greater U.S. Open Champ. He’s won one more than Tiger. Simple math. Jack has four. Tiger has three.
Heck Jack has three second place finishes as well, including the 1960 Open where he finished behind Arnie as an amateur. He lost in a playoff to Lee Trevino at Merion in 1971 and would have won the title in ’82 if Watson hadn’t pulled that rabbit out of the rough on 17.
Now Gorman will try to persuade you that Tiger is the greater of the two because he accomplished his three wins in a shorter time span and while that is a fact he still is one behind the Bear.
So until he wins that fourth sterling silver jug (and that ain’t happening), Nicklaus is the greatest U.S. Open champion.
Okay, win number one for me. So easy.
Tom Gorman: That empty suit known as Tim Geary is back at the keyboard proclaiming that Jack Nicklaus is God; that Jack is the best U.S. Open player ever to slip on a Footjoy, except there’s a problem, Jack never used Footjoy products and he’s not the best player in U.S. Open history.
That title was earned by his Royal High-ness, Tiger Woods.
Yes, Jack won four in a different era. But Tiger won three of the most memorable US Opens in its 117-year history.
In 2000, Tiger (-12!) won by a record 15 shots over runner-up Ernie Els (+3!) at Pebble Beach. It was the most dominant performance in major championship history.
Woods won No. 2 at Bethpage in ’02 where, once again, he was the only player to shoot in the red.
And who can forget 2008 at Torrey Pines? The greatest closer in history called it his “greatest ever championship” after he limped his way to a win over Rocco Mediate in a Monday playoff, gutting out 19 extra holes on a bum knee that required surgery a few days after the tournament.
2. Are U.S. Open courses set up fairly?
Geary: Oh, boo hoo. The fairways are too tight. The rough is too difficult. The greens are too firm. Cry me a river. This is the national championship of the United States. It’s not supposed to generate a champion who shoots 21-under par and gets a tractor along with the check.
The U.S. Open is supposed to be HARD. Its supposed to identify the player who can best handle the conditions, the stress, the mental challenge.
Fair? When has golf ever been associated with fair? If its so unfair why do so many people from around the world attempt to qualify? Why aren’t there more Bruce Lietzkes, who went fishing the week of the Open, because it was too hard?
Are the conditions different than most tournaments? Yes. Are they the same for everyone who tees it up? Yup. So what’s the problem? Real championships are supposed to be difficult to win.
That’s win number two for me. See how easy this is?
Gorman: There’s not enough space here to vent about how much I despise the USGA and how they are ruining the game.
Let’s start with the archaic rules. Does Dustin Johnson ring a bell? The world No. 1 picked up his first major title at Oakmont last year. But the final round was marred by the USGA’s incompetence and convoluted ruling.
And don’t get me started on their ban of the belly putter? I’ve used a long putter for 18 years and counting. Way to grow the game boys!
Also, why does the USGA call itself a non-profit when they have $300 million in the bank? The US Open is a jackpot that annually grosses over $80 million.
Moderator: Let’s get back on topic. Are U.S. Open courses set up fairly?
Gorman: Of course they’re not set up fairly. The USGA intentionally tricks up its golf courses in an effort to embarrass the world’s best players.
Because it’s our national championship, and a major, the U.S. Open draws a lot of interest no matter where it’s played, but the USGA spends years performing unnecessary micro-surgery on its fairways, greens and bunkers.
How many good shots can these players hit and still get punished? If Phil shoots a 75 on an Open course, the average Joe-six-pack hacker will pump out a smooth 130.
The USGA has turned the US Open courses into torture chambers and to make matters worse, they are smug about it.
Speaking of smug, did I mention USGA executive director Mike Davis is a…
Moderator: Okay. Next topic.
Gorman: … And his team of blue-blazer-wearing clones remind me of a bunch of…
Moderator: Next topic.
3. Who is a better analyst, Faxon or Zinger?
Geary: All of our opinions are subjective and this one really is. There is no statistical data on which to base our feelings. It’s who do we think is better.
Frankly I find both to be excellent. They each prepare well, have a strong pedigree, have been around the game for years and are each articulate and informative.
I prefer Brad for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that I’ve known him since he was a junior, so I admit I am very biased.
But he’s also very good at this. He brings both knowledge and personality to the position. He has a great sense of humor and timing and he can be objective and critical without being insulting to the player he is critiquing.
I’ll take a tie on this one, so for debate one I go 2-0-1. And this is probably as good as Gorman will ever do.
Gorman: While Rhode Island rump swab Tim Geary does cartwheels in favor of his Ocean State brethren Brad Faxon, the answer to this isn’t close.
Faxon is a nice enough guy, but he brings nothing to the broadcast. He’s not funny, enlightening, charismatic, energetic, controversial, or compelling.
He never describes a bad shot as bad, or a dumb decision as dumb. He seems too afraid to criticize anyone. Am I waffling here?
At least Paul Azinger will mix it up and say a player “choked” if that’s what happened.
Azinger is no Johnny Miller but I learn and listen to what he says. Zinger does a good job and he’s accurate, interesting, amusing, entertaining, knowledgeable, and apologetic, if necessary.
One parting shot at the USGA, who were paid $1.1 billion by FOX SPORTS to produce televised golf for all USGA major tournaments for 12 years beginning in 2014.
Moderator: Stay on topic…
Gorman: … Hey, maybe they’re not as dumb as I thought? Because televised golf is in a ratings freefall, and has become a total snooze-fest with no storylines, characters, or rivalries.
The broadcasts have become an insult to the intelligence of fading baby boomer viewers, who tune in every weekend to watch the drama unfold, but have to put up with what has become nothing more than a PGA Tour infomercial.
I mean, it’s hard to take a televised sporting event serious when they roll out the CEO of some insurance company for an in-booth “interview” during the closing minutes. The recent St. Judes’ Classic was absolutely pathetic to watch.
Moderator: Stay on topic…
Gorman: One thing is certain for the 2017 US Open at Erin Hills: Expectations are low for Joe Buck, Paul Azinger and Brad Faxon to deliver a quality telecast!
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of Pro Golf Weekly.