Chain Reactions: Getting Ready For Tiger Woods-Less 2011 U.S. Open

BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 14: Phil Mickelson signs his autograph for fans during a practice round prior to the start of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 14, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

The Tiger Woods-less U.S. Open needs a young American, or even an old one to step their game up at Congressional Country Club this weekend.

As we get ready for a Tiger Woods-less 2011 U.S. Open, we examine whether or not there is a problem with American pro golfers. Plus, more late hits on Albert Haynesworth (can we cut this guy already and move on?) and why the NFL lockout needs to end for my sanity. LeBron was right: after the Heat lost in the finals I still have my same sucky life and there is still a lockout.

How bad is it? I have been reading Twitter timelines on the Redskins' "players only" workouts (I can never get that time back) and was actually caring about it! I even retweeted when I heard John Beck threw a touchdown on Tuesday. Please make it STOP! There is a lot of buzz that they are getting closer thanks to meetings in Maryland. We can only hope.

Will an American End a Major Drought?

There will be no Tiger Woods at Congressional Country Club this week for the U.S. Open, but there are plenty of storylines, including whether or not Americans are losing their grip on the game. For the first time ever, no American holds a major championship title, and the U.S. is not in possession of the Ryder Cup. Has globalization taken its toll? Steve Stricker is currently the highest-ranked American golfer at No. 4 in the world.

"I think this tournament will tell a lot," Stricker said. "If an American can win here, maybe we can gain back some of that momentum. It seems to be pro-Europe every week, every major. It will be interesting this week to see what happens. I think we are on the ropes a little bit. Everybody sees it. Everybody talks about it."

Perhaps the Americans would never have been on the ropes if it were not for Tiger's problems off and on the course. There are plenty of talented young American golfers. Dustin Johnson almost won two majors last year, and players like Hunter Mahan, and Jeff Overton are certainly talented enough for a Major break through. We also should not discount Phil Mickelson (World's No. 5) who has been the bridesmaid five times at the U.S. Open. Mickelson, for one does not feel American golf is in any kind of trouble.

"It's obvious that world golf as a whole has become so much stronger, and that international and European golf has become world class," Mickelson said. "So although international golf has really taken off, American golf is still in very good shape."

Leave it to Lefty to have a positive spin on the situation. He is the last American golfer to win a major championship, taking the 2010 Masters. Parity is highly touted in team sports, but golf tends to operate best with star American players like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and of course Tiger. Perhaps if Mickelson can putt well he could be the American to break through in these Tigerless times and give the United States and the PGA Tour a face instead of just a field. 

Late Hit on Haynesworth and Haslett

The NFL lockout has led to some loose lips, as Redskins Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett finally let loose on Albert Haynesworth.

"He can do almost anything he wants," Haslett told 101 ESPN radio in St. Louis. "He doesn't want to do anything. To me that's the issue. He's one of those guys you walk in a meeting and you tell him, ‘Put down the phone.' The next day you have to tell him to put down the phone. The next day, you tell him to put down the phone.

"You tell him, ‘Don't read the newspaper in meetings.' The next day you have to tell him the same thing. It doesn't stick; it's an every-day thing."

My first reaction to Haslett's after-the-whistle hit on the underachieving former Pro Bowler was, "what took you so long!" It was a surprising moment of honesty from Haslett, who often measured his words on Haynesworth throughout the season, perhaps hoping the light would click on. It obviously never did.  

Redskins veteran DT Vonny Holliday told Lavar Arrington and Chad Dukes on 106.7 The Fan this week that he thought the teams coaching staff could have been tougher on Haynesworth during the season.

"Short of getting into a fight with Big Al, you can't tell him what to do," Holliday said, via NFL.com. "As frank as Coach Haslett was on the radio station about what transpired throughout the course of last year with Albert I thought there was a missed opportunity there for coaches.

"Maybe this is something that was just instilled in me early in my career - you just don't take your phone to a meeting. If a phone rings in a meeting it is an issue. It is a problem. You are going to get cursed out, fussed out and fined. Any number of things are going to happen to you by your coach. I'm terrified.

"These younger guys it is not the same. It's not looked at as the same. Unfortunately Albert ... some of the stuff that Coach Haslett is talking about, having a phone in the meeting, it was just not addressed. Coming up, you're telling a guy, ‘Hey don't bring your phone to a meeting. You can't do that.' I mean, the way we get through to these guys is to fine them and that just never happened throughout the year."

When I hear stuff like this, it only firms up my position that the Redskins should not get in the Plaxico Burress business.

Wizards Draft Options

What will the Wizards do next Wednesday?  Will they get lucky and Enes Kanter fall in their lap?

"I think they know he’s not going to be there. They need to move up,” Max Ergul said of the Wizards. “It’s my job to make my kid available and accessible to very good franchises with new ownership and a good front office trying to do a job for the fans. It’s my job to help their cause. They want to get to know the kid a little bit more, so they can go back and make some major decisions if they need to.”

Kanter is scheduled to workout for the team Friday. The friend of John Wall's wants to be a Wizard, which is a great thing but unless the unexpected happens the Wizards might need to make a move to grab him. The guys at Draft Express have him landing in the Wizards' lap.  Let's hope they are right, because 6-11 physical post players that want to play in D.C. do not come along every year.

Zimmerman Back, LaRoche Done

The Nationals have missed Ryan Zimmerman a lot, and they rallied in his return with a 8-6 win over the Cardinals.  The Nationals' offense has struggled mightily, as they are 25th in runs, 29th in batting average, 28th in On Base Percentage and 25th in Slugging Percentage. Things have been so bad that manager Jim Riggleman has starting hitting Jayson Werth in the leadoff spot and the pitcher in the eight hole.

Riggleman said. “I thought he had some good swings, some good takes. . . . It’s been a while, it’s major league pitching, but just to come in and get comfortable, it’s big. I think as we go through, we’ll feel his impact in the lineup.”

Zimmerman went 1-5 with an RBI double, striking out twice after missing 58 games with an abdominal injury. His return will be felt defensively as well. Adam LaRoche is not as fortunate, as he is set for season-ending shoulder surgery. So much for the new Adam replacing the other Adam (as in Dunn). LaRoche signed a two year, $16 million contract this offseason and has never been healthy. Neither has the Nationals' offense.

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