If Day 1 of the PGA Tour’s US Open is indicative of things to come, the players and fans better hang on tight, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride. The first day of our national golf tournament had some of everything from double eagles to quadruple bogeys and lost balls. It sure made for good television, though.
Many of the players that the “experts” anticipated being in the hunt are anything but, with many of them needing solid rounds just to make the cut. The group that was home to the top 3 players in the world combined to shoot 19 over par. Out of 54 opportunities in the group, there were only 9 times when one member of the group hit both the fairway and green in regulation on the same hole. That’s the antithesis to the recipe for success in a U.S. Open.
The featured grouping of the day; Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson and Tiger Woods wasn’t much better than the top 3 in the world group, with the exception of Tiger. Woods attacked the Olympic Club in the surgical manner that was reminiscent of the days when he was winning everything in sight. His creativity seemed to be back, as well as his execution. Simply put, he put on a clinic. I followed the grouping online for most of the day, and there were very few shots that Tiger hit poorly. The two lefties in the group, on the other hand, couldn’t get anything going. Mickelson lost a ball on his first tee shot, which is never a good omen. From there on out, both players sprayed the ball all over the course.
There were, however some bright spots in the first round. Michael Thompson, a 27 year old playing in his first U.S. Open carded 7 birdies to take the lead heading into the 2nd round at 4 under par. Nick Watney managed to rack up only the third double eagle in U.S. Open history. On the par 5 17th hole, he blistered a 330 yard drive right down the middle of the fairway and proceeded to hole a 5 iron from 190 yards out. That single swing took him from 3 over on the day to even par. Andy Zhang, the youngest player in modern U.S. Open history at 14 years old got off to a rough start. After the first 5 holes he was 8 over par, including a triple at the first. He managed to grind out the last 13 holes at 1 over par, carding a 79. Not bad for a kid who won’t even be able to drive a car for a few years.
It’s almost certain that some of the people at the top of the leaderboard are going to come back to the field and some of the people who posted poor scores are going to be in contention heading into the weekend. We’ll just have to wait and see which players move in which direction.