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Congrats to Gary Woodland for winning our country's open championship.  I'm sure that he had to take a few deep breaths hitting those shots with two time champ, Brooks Koepka closing in on him.  Shots like hitting the wedge while on the green at 17 and the 3-wood up the hill at the par 5, 14th hole, were serious nerve testers.  I couldn't have been the only one watching and saying, he can't be trying this right now, can he?!?!  When you execute, you can make any decision look good.  I think the biggest take away was that Pebble Beach played extremely easy.  These were some of the lowest scores of any U.S. Open.  The USGA was probably not thrilled that it was damp and windless through the weekend.  The benign conditions caused records to fall.  Victor Hovland was -4, which topped Jack Nicklaus' -3 record of the lowest amateur score at the U.S. Open.  The players must be pretty happy after years of complaining about the tournament being tough and unfair.  I'm interested to see how the USGA treats the setup for next year. We'll see if Winged Foot plays easier or more challenging than it did back in 2006.  I'm also interested to see if a familiar track is just what Phil Mickelson needs to take the trophy home.  I'm already getting excited for it and it's a year away, but first, we have the Open Championship left on the docket.  We will see you at Royal Portrush.

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It's been a few days now and I'm still a bit down about Arnold Palmer's passing.  I think everyone in the golf community probably feels the same.  The King brought so much to golf and humanity.  He was my personal favorite, so I might be biased, but I think he was the greatest ambassador of golf and arguably the greatest of all sports.  He was a great player and humanitarian.  He won a U.S. Am, had 7 major victories and 62 PGA Tour wins.  He was great in the Ryder Cup as a player and captain, and playing captain.  He was such a friendly person that it seems like everyone has a story of how he talked to them like he was a close friend.  That's pretty amazing when you think of how many people Arnie came across through his 87 years.  He was in the Coast Guard and an avid pilot.  He started a children's hospital that has saved countless lives.  He left his fingerprint on many golf courses as a designer and was so humble that you would never think he did all of this.  Did I mention that he had his own army and a drink named after him.  He was such an influence that he basically made wearing pink cool.  It seemed like there was nothing he couldn't do or person that he couldn't reach.  Even in his passing, he will still be helping families and their children through his hospital.  Arnold Palmer was a great golfer, but probably a better humanitarian, philanthropist and person.  Arnie will surely be missed!

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The U.S. Open is set to start tomorrow at Chambers Bay.  The best players in the world will be in Washington to compete in this prestigious major.  From the initial looks of the course, it seems to be one that will be nearly impossible to score on.  The fairways are hard and fast.  The rough is thick and the course could play astronomically long, especially if the wind kicks up.  Very few of the pros will break par by the end but I do have a few favorites.  In the spirit of our nation's triple crown winner, American Pharoah, I will give you the win place and show.

Win:  Phil Mickelson - By a furlong to complete his career grand slam.  He is long enough and has enough imagination to hit all the shots needed.  He figured out how to win links golf at Muirfield and will replicate that this week.

Place:  Dustin Johnson - Will come close again, but no cigar.  I like his length and previous experience on similar tracks like his T-5 at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.  He has also had strong play at the British Open.  Links golf seems to fit Dustin's eye.

Show:  Rory Mcilroy - He's just so solid right now that it is tough to count him out.  I think the greens may trip him up enough to keep him out of the winners circle.

Dark Horse:  Keegan Bradley - If my theory of longer hitters holds true, Keegan wouldn't be one to overlook.  He has won a major but has been fairly silent as of late.  I used to play a lot of links style golf when living in up north and imagine my fellow New Englander has seen his fair share as well.  Keep a eye on him as a long shot bet.

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After the second round at the Shell Houston Open, we continue to see outstanding scores.  The soft greens are really allowing the guys to target pins and give putts a good run at the hole.  The cut line finished at -4.  This is one of the lowest of the season on the PGA Tour.  There is a chance that this could end up being the lowest final score of the season as well.  There are a lot of big names within 10 shots of the lead and if the great conditions continue, I expect to see some lead changes and big fireworks coming down the stretch. 

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The Shell Houston Open is off to a hot start.  Just to name a few, players like Mickelson, Garcia, Mahan, Kucher, Els, Rose, Fowler and Spieth are teeing it up at the Golf Course of Houston in Humble, Texas. The big names are out and going low.  This star studded crew that I just mentioned all carded sub-par rounds and most, well into the 60's.  After the first round, they will all be trying to catch Scott Piercy.  He opened with a blistering nine under 63.  Piercy is no stranger to going low in his victories.  Out of his 4 professional wins (2 on the Nationwide Tour), every win was in the double digits and one was 22 under par.  Also, six rounds were at 55 of better.  Scott will be a tough guy to catch, but if there is a field out there that can catch him, it would be this one.  Stay tuned for updates.

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