By Chuck Garbedian Special to Published Jun 12, 2008 at 5:02 AM

I'm a selective purist.

I'd also like to think that there are times when common sense comes into play. It wasn't that long ago that we were not a 24/7 society, where every little thing could be dissected, analyzed, chewed up and spit out only to be regurgitated by someone somewhere down the line and accepted as possible fact.

So, Kenny Perry doesn't want to play in a 36-hole qualifier for the US Open because he says his 47-year-old body can't take the rigors of that kind of exam anymore. And who are we to say that we know how Kenny Perry's body will respond better than he does?

Torrey Pines, the site of the 2008 United States Open, is also not a course that suits Kenny Perry's eye. He's a grown touring professional who doesn't want to endure a 36-hole qualifier to play a course he doesn't like. Hey, I realize that it's the US Open, but get over it!

We ask honesty of all these days -- our politicians, our athletes, our heroes -- and when they have the audacity to actually say something relevant, something honest, something from the heart, we then proceed to barbecue them because we don't like what they said, even though it's the truth that we demanded.

Remember Vijay Singh's comments about Annika Sorenstam participating at Colonial? Remember when a young and somewhat naïve Tiger Woods spoke all too candidly to a reporter shortly after welcoming himself professionally to the world?

I trust that Kenny Perry knows what he's doing. The Ryder Cup at Valhalla is more important to him than the US Open. He's played seven weeks in a row, playing courses that suit his style of play. He's played well, notching a win at the Memorial (ironically Jack Nicklaus's event) and several other top finishes to move him to fifth place in the Ryder Cup standings for the United States squad.

If the USGA wanted to make a real statement about the quality of the US Open field, it would award the winner of any full-field invitational or event a spot in the US Open, just like the Masters has begun to do again. And with it, a buzz would be created because now a red-hot Kenny Perry would be in the Open instead of looking in from the outside and having to make a judgment call on his own.

If you want to regurgitate one, how about this; what's more important, Kenny Perry winning the individual title of US Open Champion or Kenny Perry helping Team USA win back the Ryder Cup? Individual or team, you make the call.

As long as we're speaking of the US Open, let's take a look at what we're in for this weekend.

The 2008 US Open is the 108th played and will be contested on Torrey Pines South Course, playing to a par of 35-36-71 at 7,643 yards, 379 yards longer than any previous US Open layout.

Both of the nines on the South Course end with a par-5. The ninth tops out at 612 yards, while No. 18 checks in at a mere 573 yards. Torrey Pines will also feature two of the longest par-4s in Open history. The 12th hole will play to a length of 504 yards while the sixth hole will measure out as the longest four par in Open history at a mind bending 515 yards. The risk/reward factor will be further tested when the USGA moves the 435 yard par-4 14th hole up to a drivable 277 yards for at least one of the weekend rounds, daring the field to take a shot at driving the green.

In terms of overall conditions, Torrey Pines will play firmer and faster from tee to green in this configuration than it does when the Buick Open is contested there early in the PGA season.

The fairways for the US Open will range from 24 to 33 yards wide with a six-foot wide first cut of rough that will run the length of the hole at a depth of one inch. The next cut of primary rough will be 15-feet wide and grown to two inches, while the second cut of the deepest rough will be three inches deep. Some of the gallery ropes will be moved further from the fairway so that an errant drive will have to contend with a recovery from the most penal rough.

Greens on the South Course will run out at 13 to 13.5 on the Stimpmeter for all four days of the Championship. The primary rough 12 feet around the putting surfaces will feature three inch deep rough while further out the rough will be grown to four inches.

There will be 30 hours of television coverage for the Open with 16 of those coming on NBC, with ESPN handling 14 hours of coverage over the first two days of play.

In case you didn't know, the US Open is open to professional and amateur players with a USGA index of not more than 1.4. The USGA accepted 8,390 entries for play at the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines.

What do you get for winning the US Open besides a wheelbarrow full of cash and a lifestyle change? Well, the winner of the 2008 US Open will receive an Open exemption for the next 10 years, as well as a five year exemption into the Masters, British Open, PGA Championship and Players event as well as a five year PGA Tour exemption.

Now, who's going to win?

Well, the thing about the USGA is they have a little sense of themselves when they make up the pairings and this US Open is no different. All of the golfing universe would like to see a Tiger Woods/Phil Mickelson showdown and the USGA has delivered by not only putting the No. 1 and No. 2 players in the World Ranking in the same group, but then they also toss in No. 3 Adam Scott to boot.

While it may be the group that anyone and everyone in golf would like to see, it more than likely can and will be a logistic nightmare for the marshals, support staff and the players in the groups playing in front of the 8:06 a.m. Thursday morning group off the first tee.

The most important aspect to this grouping is who will be where come Sunday? If this group, or even the most important two-thirds of this group, is together through the weekend leading up to Sunday's final round, the ratings will be off the charts no matter when NBC decides to run the final round (which by the way, is supposed to end at 9 p.m. Eastern time Sunday night).

Ironically, this is a home game for both Woods and Mickelson. Tiger literally owns the Buick Open and currently claims13 majors to his name. Philly Mick still lives in the area and is considered a local. It is not unreasonable to believe that either of these two will walk away the winner of the 2008 US Open. However for that to happen, each will have to get out of their own way with the most important club in the bag, the putter.

Both Woods and Mickelson are exceptional putters. The problem with that is the USGA likes to frustrate exceptional putters with extraordinary conditions. Angel Cabrera wins at Oakmont in 2007 because he is a marginal streak putter. He doesn't expect to make putts and when good putters get frustrated by greens as they did at Oakmont, rolling it well but getting nothing out of it, they start to press trying to make something happen. Patience and trust are the two hardest things to accomplish at the highest level under the most extreme conditions. Sometimes it's just better to be selectively simple, see the line and roll it in without thinking or caring about the result.

If not Woods or Mickelson, who then? As a dark horse, take a look at Steve Stricker or Davis Love III. Both know where they are in their respective careers and a US Open would do a lot to separate and solidify their already stellar play. For DL3, it would be redemption of sorts for a "nice" career, but one without the fireworks of multiple majors. For Stricker, it would be an indelible mark for someone who has been to both ends of the spectrum -- good and not so good.

Other names of note -- don't look for Angel Cabrera to repeat. Now that doesn't mean that he won't contend, but it would be hard to put together two magnificent putting weeks one year apart. Sergio Garcia has more game than most from tee to green, however, once on the flat surface he's just another pretty face with a putter in his hands. Maybe the Players changed things, or maybe Stan Utley's mentoring has returned the putting stroke of his youth, but by his own admission, Sergio is an old 28 and the majors are beginning to pile up and go to others with not nearly the same amount of talent as El Nino.

Boo Weekly could make some noise, as could Anthony Kim. I like the style with which Andres Romero plays with. I think that Jim Furyk can be competitive but to win on this course, everything would have to go right for him. I think Ernie Els is done. It's tough to put a finger on Retief Goosen or Trevor Immelman or Zach Johnson or Mike Weir.

It almost seems like Camilo Villegas or Jeff Quinney or Bubba Watson should have a win already. That said, it won't happen at this venue in this event.

Of the locals, there is Jon Turcott from Middleton, Jerry Kelly and Stricker from the Madison area and Sean English, who is a great guy and the one time head golf professional at Bristlecone Pines.

So, who will win the 108th playing of the United States Open? The Ben Hogan answer would be the player with the lowest score. The reality will be someone who drives it well, plays precise iron shots, putts well and recognizes the breaks he takes advantage of.

If push comes to shove, regardless of the time off and the knee surgery, I have to go with Tiger Woods. If it wasn't enough to have the US Open to get his attention following a long layoff, pairing him with Lefty is a motivator that revs the motor a little higher.

Regardless, this major should be a great one to get inside and enjoy.


Chuck Garbedian Special to
Chuck has more than a decade of experience in many aspects of the golf industry -- from sales to teaching to hosting radio talk shows. He has been media chairman for the Greater Milwaukee Open since 1992, has served as women's golf coach at Wisconsin Lutheran College and is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America. He currently does work for PGA TOUR Network on SIRIUS XM Radio.