Pondering From Pinehurst

By Kraig KannJune 17, 2005, 4:00 pm
So far, so great! Here we are, only one round done here at Pinehurst and the leaderboard couldnt be much better.
 
The top-ranked players in the world were hardly a Day One disappointment. And we have just the right amount of players up there to qualify for a Monday headline that (sorry Hollywood) might read 'Cinderella Man.'
 
Like you, Ive got some things on my mind and some questions that you can help answer. So here we go. Six questions to ponder heading to the weekend:
 
1. Can Olin Browne and Rocco Mediate ' certainly quality players and PGA Tour winners ' hang in there?
I think one of them might just do it. The problem is that I cant decide which one. Both are very good ball-strikers. Neither is among the longest drivers on the tour, but they are tough customers mentally.
 
2. Is Retief Goosen the coolest customer among the Big 5?
Quite a statement by Goosen in Round 1. His 68 was very comfortable. Goosen admitted that he was a bit miffed by a small showing for his news conference earlier in the week. The defending champion is looking to make it three U.S. Opens since 2001. Ive got a strong hunch hell be there on the back nine come Sunday. And a win will end all talk of The Big 4.
 
3. Is Pinehurst the perfect U.S. Open venue?
It appears it might be the easiest to set up fairly. Nine players under par after Round ,1 compared to 20-plus back in 1999 ' and nobodys complaining. We still have three rounds to play, but thus far were seeing a golf course that demands everything. And a pair of first-day 67s is just enough to keep everyone thinking they have the chance to do the same thing.
 
4. If not Goosen then which of the other Big 5 has the best chance?
For my money right now.. I wish I knew. I didnt fancy Els or Singh coming in because of some inconsistent play the last few weeks. Tiger is Tiger and with that comes the thought these days that he could win by five or lose by 10. The realistic thought also persisted that Woods would certainly be in it. And with the Grand Slam hopes hanging in the balance, I expect Tiger to be there. Mickelson had it at 2-under, then let it slip even before making birdie at 18 to finish Thursday at 1-under. Hell be there, too. Im sticking with my pick that none of the Big 5 wins it, but at this stage if I have to go with one of the '5'. I like Woods.
 
5. Is the U.S. Open more interesting if the USGA and the players dont get along?
Simply said ' No. Last year was tough on everyone. And it left the fans of the sport squirming a bit, too. Nobody wants to see golf over the edge. And thats why I really think we have a good thing going right now. Ive always felt that Sunday at the U.S. Open had great drama. But a different drama. Folks are on the edges of their seats just like any other major. But its for a different reason. Chaos, catastrophe and carnage are ready at any moment with Sunday pressure. There are no eagles at 13 or 15 like Augusta provides. For that matter, we dont seem to see a hole-out eagle at the 11th like K.J. Choi gave us at the Masters, either. Its the dreaded double or worse that we might see that keeps us glued to the set. Who becomes unglued under pressure? Thats the U.S. Open and it doesnt need any extra 'help' from course set-up to provide the madness.
 
6. Hey Kraig, are you still sticking with Furyk?
Yes. Opening round of 71 has me feeling content. Round 2 will be the most important. If Jims there come Sunday, I feel his chances are strong.
 
And one other thing before I go Fred Couples at age 45 shot 71 on Thursday here. Perhaps theres a little magic left in his bag. A close call at the Memorial has fans ready for a miracle finish. Chants of 'Freddy, Freddy!' wouldnt be a bad story at all.
 
My questions ' your answers. What do you think?
 
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
 
Related links:
  • Leaderboard - 105th U.S. Open
  • Full Coverage - 105th U.S. Open
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    Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

    By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

    Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.