Notes Love Garcia Left to Wonder


PINEHURST, N.C. -- Davis Love III was left thinking about what could have been. So was Sergio Garcia.
Both raced up the leaderboard Sunday with solid final rounds in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, with Love's 1-under 69 moving him into a tie for sixth. After a 77 on Thursday, he had scores of 70 and 70 before completing the championship with one of only four rounds under par.
'I've been thinking about it for three days,' Love said. 'I'm extremely disappointed with the first round. I put it out of my head and I played three good days after that, but you're just not going to win shooting 77.'
Garcia started a couple of shots closer to the lead than Love and finished with a 70, which was good for a tie for third.
'I really feel like I shot the highest score I could shoot today,' he said. 'I would not shoot any higher today. You've got to get breaks and you've got to make a couple of putts. If you do that, you're standing up here with the cup.'
For Love, the result was particularly disappointing, considering his experience at No. 2. He played the course often as a college student at the University of North Carolina, but all that had little effect on the weekend.
'I've played here probably more than anybody in the field,' he said. 'We never see it like this, but I played it a lot.'
The final round collapses of underdogs Olin Browne and Jason Gore weren't entirely unexpected. Retief Goosen? That's another thing.
Remarkably, none of the three players at the top of the leaderboard at the start of play Sunday managed to break 80, with Browne matching that figure to finish as 'low' man on the list. Goosen stumbled to an 81 that included a stretch of four bogeys in a row on the back nine, and Gore was even worse.
The burly crowd favorite came home playing bogey golf, completing his 84 with a nine-over 44 on the back.
'I fought all the way and just couldn't stop the bleeding,' Gore said.
Goosen's round was eerily similar to the effort of his pal Ernie Els in the 2004 Open, when he finished with an 80 in the final pairing as Goosen won his second title. On this day, the normally unflappable Goosen couldn't beat that score.
'It's just one of those rounds,' he said. 'I haven't putted this badly in a long time. We all have bad rounds. It's unfortunate it happened in this tournament.'
The 81 was the highest closing score by a third-round leader in the Open since Gil Morgan shot 81 in the wind at Pebble Beach in 1992.
Arron Oberholser's first trip to the Open resulted in a tie for ninth. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite enough to give him another first - a trip to the Masters.
The top eight and ties get exemptions to Augusta, leaving Mark Hensby as the only one making his inaugural trip.
At least Oberholser gets to come back to the Open as one of the top 15, a total that included Champions Tour player Peter Jacobsen. He got in this year after a victory in U.S. Senior Open but automatically will be invited back to Winged Foot in 2006.
Also getting a return ticket was Corey Pavin, whose 10-year exemption for his 1995 victory at Shinnecock Hills ran out this year. He tied for 11th.
John Daly shot a 2-under 68 the first time he played Pinehurst No. 2 six years ago. He hasn't broken par in a U.S. Open since then, and his return this week was not much help.
He didn't swat any moving balls with this putter as he did in the final round in 1999, but Daly had a triple bogey on the second hole and a double bogey on the par-5 10th to close with a 76 and finish at 19 over par.
'You were 1 under,' his caddie told him. 'Par is 20 over this week.'
That brought a smile from Daly, who was more perplexed than he was frustrated.
'I tried as hard as I could,' Daly said. 'I don't think anyone can shoot under par. It's just brutal, and that's what the U.S. Open is all about.'
Daly has played only two other times in the U.S. Open since 1999, withdrawing the next year at Pebble Beach after an 83 in the first round, and tying for 70th in 2002 at Bethpage Black.
Reality sets in quickly for University of Florida junior Matt Every, the low amateur in the Open. On Tuesday, he leaves for the Northeast Amateur, where his gallery likely will including his family and maybe his hosts for the week.
'Talk about a buzz kill,' Every said with a laugh. 'I'm not knocking the Northeast Am. It's an awesome amateur tournament, but it's not the U.S. Open.'
Every was solid throughout the tournament, finishing his 72 holes without a double bogey. On the 18th in the final round, he made a knee-knocker for par to complete an even-par 70, one of eight one-putt greens for the 21-year-old.
'Yeah, it's crazy,' he said. 'I moved the ball back in my stance a little bit. I don't know if that helped - it probably helped me mentally, just something to fool around with - but they rolled a little better, so it worked out.'
He hopes the improvement on that part of his game will continue before he turns pro.
'I think I can make a living out here, to tell you the truth,' Every said. 'But if I want to be great, or better than average, I definitely have to roll it a little better.'
Officially, Chris Nallen was the only player in the first group off the tee. But he had an unofficial partner.
Good friend Trip Kuehne, an amateur who didn't make the cut and the older brother of Tour player Hank Kuehne, paired with Nallen as a marker, trying to keep pace of play within reason. Still, they went around Pinehurst No. 2 in exactly three hours, with Nallen finishing with a 5-over 75.
'We played Walker Cup together and it was nice to have him out there, kind of just keeping me loose and playing,' said Nallen, who was in his first Open. 'He was gracious to me, courteous, and we had a good time. We talked the whole way around.'
Nallen's claim to fame in a brief career is becoming the first player in Nationwide Tour history to Monday qualify for his first start, then win it by leading wire-to-wire. In 1994, Kuehne lost to Tiger Woods in the U.S. Amateur final, but he never turned pro.
'We just went out and played,' Kuehne said. 'It was two friends playing golf, and I was trying to encourage Chris so he could shoot a low score, and we had a good time. We took our time. You obviously don't have to wait, so you just get up there, get a yardage and hit it, and go find it.'
Related links:
  • Leaderboard - 105th U.S. Open
  • Full Coverage - 105th U.S. Open

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