Two weeks ago, the USGA faced a predicament. Justin Rose, the man that had just claimed Jack Nicklaus' Memorial, didn't have an invite into the U.S. Open. His attempt to qualify the day after winning his first PGA Tour title fell short, and he was now on the outside looking in for the second major of 2010.
The issue was debated, with some thinking that Rose deserved a special invite into the tournament and others saying if he wanted in, he could have qualified. The USGA really only faced one nightmare scenario: Rose playing well directly after the Open, making it seem ridiculous that the hottest golfer in the world wasn't even included in a major championship that claims to feature the most talented field in golf.
USGA, your nightmare is here. Rose shot a second-round 62 on Friday at TPC River Highlands, giving the Englishman a four-shot lead over Kevin Sutherland. If Rose hangs on this weekend, it will be the second win in a row for the 29-year-old, but it is already clear that not allowing him in the U.S. Open was the wrong move.
First, when someone wins a marquee event like the Memorial, they should be automatically let in by the USGA. The snag for Rose was he won an event that concluded on June 6, two weeks after the USGA deadline. Any PGA Tour winner is invited into the U.S. Open if they claim that win by May 24, but why in the world can't they just extend that to events leading up to the U.S. Open? Maybe years ago this would have been a problem for winners because of air travel and accommodations, but this is 2010, where some players have access to private jets, any plane ticket in the world, and would happily stick their thumb out if it meant making the field at Pebble Beach. If the problem lies with pairings, crazier things have happened in a golf event, and making the last two groups twosomes wouldn't be the worst idea.
We will have to wait two days to see if Rose can claim this event, and chalk up another PGA Tour win for the upcoming European Ryder Cup squad, but no matter how he finishes, it is extremely clear that the USGA made a mistake by not letting Rose in, and hopefully Rose has a little chip on his shoulder.
Graeme McDowell won a well-played U.S. Open. The problem is, the best playing golfer in the world might have been watching from his couch just like we were.