More than a game: A good bet?

Fergus considers the favourite for this week's US Open but allows his mind to stray dangergously onto his own chances of success this season.

So the US Open gets underway today at Torrey Pines in California. Is it just me or is it absolutely insane that Tiger Woods is still 3/1 favourite?

When fit, he's unchallenged as the best player in the world and he has a great record at Torrey Pines. Under normal circumstances it'd be hard to look past him even though it's six years since he last won a US Open. But, he's only just (perhaps hasn't quite) recovered from knee surgery and hasn't played a tournament since he failed to win the Masters in April. The US Open is the Major that's least suited to Tiger's game: narrow fairways and punishing rough aren't ideal for a man ranked 146th in driving accuracy on tour this year. Add to this the fact the course will be 379 yards longer than any previous US Open layout it measures a ridiculous 7,541 yards. Not even Tiger can get away with not using driver around a course that long. Right, I'm putting my neck on the line and saying Tiger Woods will not win this US Open.

I actually hope I'm wrong because if he were to come back to competitive golf after a two-month break and win the most demanding tournament of the year it would be a Herculean effort. It would surely go down in history as one of the great golfing achievements.

Something that certainly won't go down in the annals as one of the great golfing achievements was my performance in the Greg Norman Medal at Banchory last Saturday. Brimming with confidence after my Masters victory (see last week's blog) I stepped onto the first tee with nothing but an under par round in mind.

One under through eight holes and I was mentally notching up the birdies I would make on the back nine. After some quick sums I must confess the thought of a course record opportunity flitted through my arrogant and deluded brain as I stood on the ninth tee. I was basking in that great feeling when you actually believe you've cracked it and will never play badly again.

After I'd duffed two chips and double bogeyed the ninth, I stood on the 10th tee with a slightly different mindset. The thoughts filling my pathetic little brain were changed to: You're a totally useless golfer. You'll be lucky to make the buffer zone now. You might as well walk off at the 12th.

It's quite incredible how fragile my mental game is. I went from uber confident to utterly despondent in the space of 10 minutes. After going out in a respectable, though ultimately disappointing, one over. I made the distress call to the paramedics as I walked down the 10th fairway. The ambulance arrived promptly to carry me and my broken spirit over the final eight holes.

My handicap is now up to 1.6 so I've gone up a total of 0.5 this year. The fact I can barely remember playing in five Medals gives a fairly clear indication of how badly I'm playing this season. I've basically written off 2008 and will hope for better fortune in 2009 If Bob Rotella, Karl Morris or Gary Leboff are reading this blog (and I'm sure you are,) chaps, I need help. Please give me a call to discuss.

Yet another wedding will prevent me turning my season around this weekend so my next competitive outing will come in the first round of the Club Championship next Wednesday. I've just checked William Hill and my odds for the competition are quite a bit longer than those of Tiger Woods for the US Open. Probably fair, but at least my knee doesn't hurt.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?