These days, it seems amateurism is in the ascendant. We are told to ignore the experts and instead put our trust in the "wisdom of crowds"—by definition, an agglomeration of amateurs. We read amateur writers' blog posts; we watch the theatrics of reality television's amateur stars .
It's the age of the amateur, but not when it comes to golf.
The U.S. Open Championship, which begins today in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, is called such because it is "open" to both professionals and amateurs (as it has been since its inception in 1895). But today, a victory by a non-professional would be beyond unexpected—even beyond imaginable.
Sure, the most historic Open win ever was scored by teenage amateur Francis Ouimet over British professionals Harry Vardon and Ted Ray at The Country Club in Brookline, but that was in 1913. And, of course, all-time great Bobby Jones, an amateur who never turned pro, was a four-time U.S. Open champion (and finished second, including two playoff losses, four times), but his final victory was 83 years ago. The last amateur to take home the U.S. Open trophy was Johnny Goodman in 1933, and recent years have not been kind to amateur aspirants to the Open title. Not even Tiger Woods (who is seeking a record-tying fourth U.S. Open title this week) was a competitive force in his amateur days, finishing tied for 82nd in 1996 and withdrawing due to injury after shooting an opening-round 74 the year before. Last year, 17-year-old Beau Hossler excited the gallery by grabbing the lead in the tournament midway through the second round, but he started the last day in eighth place en route to finishing tied for 29th.