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Top U.S. Opens

Top U.S. Opens

It’s U.S. Open Final Day after several rain delays have created a final-day-Monday with Ricky Barnes and Lucas Glover starting the final day at 7-under and the lead. The number one and two players in the world (Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson for those living in a cave) are in the mix with Woods at EVEN par on the tournament and Mickelson at -2.

Sunday night I was clicking around my remote and saw that in addition to the Golf Channel’s “Live at the US Open” coverage, there were two solid golf flicks on at the same time. “The Legend of Bagger Vance” starring Will Smith, Matt Damon and Charlize Theron was on. That one was directed by superstar, Robert Redford back in 2000 and I’ve admittedly watched it numerous times.

The other golf flick showing last night (and the better of the two in my opinion) was “The Greatest Game Ever Played” which was released in 2005 and stars Shia LaBeouf and babe, Peyton List. “The Greatest Game Ever Played” was directed by Bill Paxton is based on the true story of the 1913 US Open, where 20-year-old Francis Ouimet defeated his idol, 1900 US Open champion, Englishman, Harry Vardon.

The special effects of this movie help make it a must watch for any golfer as Paxton used some neat effects to show the kind of focus that top-notch golfers must have to be able to play at that top level.

There is much documentation of some of the best U.S. Opens in history, and there are some fantastic ones – even as recent as last year when Tiger Wood’s basically beat Rocco Mediate on one leg. However, no other U.S. Open Golf Championship in history probably carries the significance of the one in which Francis Quimet won in 1913.

The film is about golfer Francis Ouimet (photo left), an amateur who was expected to fare poorly at the 1913 U.S. Open, and who was supposedly incapable of competing against professionals. Additionally, to discontinue an ongoing feud with his father, Francis agrees to get a real job and never play golf again. However, after getting a once-in-a-lifetime offer, Francis goes back on his word and competes in the U.S. Open which was taking place at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, across the street from where he lived. Against all odds, he managed to beat the British champions Harry Vardon and Ted Ray, who were considered the world’s best golfers, and become the first amateur to win the U.S. Open.

LaBeouf does a great job playing Quimet, and Stephen Dillane plays a phenomenal Harry Vardon. History shows that Quimet’s caddie at the 1913 U.S. Open was a ten year old kid named Eddie Lowery, played by Josh Flitter. Quimet worked at a sporting-goods store and needed to ask his boss for time off even to play in the Open. And when American Francis Ouimet, 20, outshot British legend Harry Vardon down the stretch of the 1913 Open in Brookline, Mass., the U.S. finally fell in love with golf. An amateur who had caddied at the country club where he was crowned champion, Ouimet had an everyman tale that connected with duffers and nongolfers alike. In the 10 years after Ouimet’s victory, the number of Americans playing the sport tripled, and public courses popped up across the country. As the World Golf Hall of Fame put it, “Ouimet’s win swept away “the notion that golf was a stuffy game for the old and rich.”

The movie does a decent job of showing that golf was a game played mostly by the upper crust at that time. It also portrayed the sentiment during those early years of the Open when American’s were growing tired of Europe’s domination of the golf world. One critic wrote, “Near the turn of the twentieth century, young Harry Vardon becomes a champion golfer but learns that his amazing skill is no match for the class boundaries that exclude him from “gentlemanly” English society. A dozen years later, a young American, Francis Ouimet, fights against the same prejudice, as well as his own father’s disdain, for a chance to participate in the U.S. Open against his idol — Harry Vardon. The struggles of both men for acceptance provides the background for an amazing contest of skills.”

…and we’d add – One very good golf flick – and perhaps the best U.S. Open in history.


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