PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Robert Allenby is beat up.
With two sore wrists and a lack of practice time, Allenby could almost celebrate finishing at 3-over par 74 in his first round at the U.S. Open.
He realizes it could have been a lot worse.
On Sunday, when many golfers in the 156-player field were already in place at Pebble Beach, Allenby was out on a fishing boat with his kids back home in Jupiter, Fla.
While maneuvering their 60-footer through an inlet at the end of the day, the vessel ran ashore and Allenby “squashed” his left wrist into the steering wheel upon impact.
“I have a nearly broken wrist,” he said after his round Thursday, that left wrist still heavily taped as he came off the course. “I hurt all the tendons. I haven’t been able to hit balls or anything.”
He’s in pain when he holds his putter. He cut his Tuesday practice round short after seven holes because the wrist was “killing me.” On Wednesday, he only walked the back nine.
On a day when the greens were fast and the wind brisk, Allenby was thrilled to stay out of the thick rough for most of his round with Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy – and find ways to deal with the bunkers and short stuff.
“It was relaxing,” Allenby said. “None of us really played our best. I guess I have a little bit of an excuse. … Thank goodness there’s not a lot of rough out here. The greens are tricky.”
Last week at Memphis, the 38-year-old Australian withdrew after just nine holes in his opening round Thursday because of tonsillitis.
“They wanted to pull my tonsils out,” he said. “I was sick the week before that. I haven’t seen this golf course in 11 years, so I did manage myself around there pretty well.”
He played through the Sony Open the second week of the season on a sprained right ankle that turned the bottom of his right foot purple.
This isn’t new for Allenby. He has dealt with his share of hard luck along the way.
This is the same guy whose 1996 season on the European Tour was cut short that October after a traffic accident in Spain in which he sustained a broken sternum and facial injuries.
“I’ve got nothing to lose,” he said. “I’m just happy to get out there and play. When you approach it with an attitude like that, that’s probably why I only shot 3 over and not 10 over.”
TRIPLE-DOUBLE: John Rollins was lost for words, so he offered some sarcasm.
“Good finish,” he quipped.
Rollins was tied for the lead at 2 under heading into the 17th on Thursday. Then he finished with a triple-bogey followed by a double-bogey, hardly the kind of triple-double to be proud of. Rollins just hopes he can recover and start Friday morning on fresh greens playing the way he did in his initial 16 holes.
“It’s a U.S. Open. You miss something or you mismanage your game, you’re going to pay the price,” Rollins said. “If I get it going again, hopefully I’ll be able to hang on and get myself back in position. I’m by no means out of the golf tournament but at the same time, standing on the 17th tee 2 under you’re feeling like you’ve got a pretty good chance of getting in there with a good score. To walk off 18 3 over is disappointing.”
Nothing went right down the stretch, starting with that terrible 17th. Rollins has been working to better control his emotions when things don’t go his way, so he didn’t let any frustration show.
“I made a debacle of that hole,” he said of 17. “I’m steaming inside. I played 16 really good holes. I had just two slip-ups. Unfortunately they were big ones.”
THE TIDES TURN: U.S. Open first-timer Hugo Leon learned in a hurry how fast things can change in a major, especially at unpredictable Pebble Beach.
Just when things seemed to be going his way, the tides turned for the cheerful Chilean during a particularly tough stretch of the front nine at this spectacular oceanside course – Nos. 7-10. Not only do seagulls squeak loudly above and sometimes land right in the path of play, the winds are constantly changing. Mistakes must be at a minimum to succeed here.
Leon birdied the par-5, 523-yard sixth to go to 1 under only to score back-to-back bogeys on his next two holes.
On No. 8, Leon landed his tee shot over a steep cliff into the left bunker and one of five sand traps surrounding the green. He wound up with a 2-over 73 for the day.
“Andale, andale, Hugo!” one man cheered as Leon lofted a chip out of that trap at the eighth, then the golfer acknowledged the gallery with a wave of his right hand.
The 25-year-old Leon hollered “get down!” to his tee shot at No. 7. He bit his right fingernails as he checked out the rocky view some 75 feet below him at the eighth tee.
Leon and fellow Open rookie Ty Tryon regularly chatted as they walked down the fairways – and even rooted each other on.
“That a way, Ty, good save,” Leon said after one shot.
Amateur Andrew Putnam, the other member of the threesome, had his own problems. He hit a drive off No. 6 that took one bounce and went over the cliff to the right to the low tide below. He took a drop there, then hit twice on his second shot on 8 after the first sailed over another bluff.
STAYING WELL: Jeffrey Poplarski is working his eighth U.S. Open on the “Wellness Team.” That’s a fancy, fit-for-golf, way to sum up all the medical professionals on hand to help the players.
Chiropractors, personal trainers, acupuncturists, physical and massage therapists. There are 95 assorted health care providers in two onsite wellness centers treating the 156 players and their caddies and the 6,000 volunteers at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
One popular treatment so far this week has been in the hyperbaric chamber, where players are spending up to an hour in an enclosed pressure vessel that provides oxygen in a high-pressure environment to help speed healing and recovery.
“It’s getting a little attention,” Poplarski, a chiropractor, said of the chamber. “They’re going in for an hour. It revitalizes the tissue.”
With the cool and sometimes downright chilly conditions, Poplarski also is receiving inquiries from players who want to make sure they can get and stay loose on the course while dealing with any minor injuries.
Poplarski handed out some heat patches for one player to wear on his troublesome back during Thursday’s round.
“The cooler it is the harder it is if you have an ailment to deal with it,” he said during a brief stop with colleague and fitness professional Marlene Simonson as they took a cart onto the course.
BARNES BOUNCES BACK: Ricky Barnes was already unraveling early in his round when his pitch shot from behind a greenside bunker on the 15th came flying out and landed 10 feet above the hole. Barnes stared angrily at the rough, looking ready to take a few chunks out of the tangled grass before missing his par putt for a third bogey in five holes.
But Barnes rebounded from his early mistakes. He fell to 4 over after bogeying No. 1 – his 10th hole – then rallied with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5 and an eagle on the uphill par-5 sixth. Barnes bogeyed the difficult eighth but finished at 1-over 72.
Last year, Barnes finally lived up to some of his potential and led the Open after three rounds at Bethpage, before stumbling with a final-round 76 and finishing in a tie for second place.
HE’S UNDER: K.J. Choi finished 1 under in his opening round Thursday – the only time he can remember being under par to start a U.S. Open. And this is the South Korean’s 10th time playing the national championship.
He overcame a bogey on No. 1 followed by a double bogey on 2. He later had two more bogeys.
“Even par every day,” Choi said of his mindset this week at Pebble Beach.
Paired with Mike Weir and Tim Clark, Choi tried to recover after the early trouble.
“I started out with bogey and double bogey, which wasn’t good, but as the holes went by I tried to find my rhythm again,” he said. “I didn’t give up. So eventually I found my swing, my shots got better, putting went better, I was able to finish the day with 1 under so, I’m happy about that. I think if I just keep it up at this pace for the next three days I’ll have a good finish. “
Choi, a pro since 1994, turned 40 last month.